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Highland has up-and-down week

Friday, January 21, 2011

Photo/Sparks NO ROOM TO WORK: Lady Rebel Chandler Holzhauer puts up a jumper in Highland's clash with the Couch Lady Indians.
It was an up-and-down week for the Highland senior basketball teams. It started on an up-swing with a Lady Rebel win at Osceola, 49-46, and a Rebel win at Brookland, 46-35, on Jan. 11 to improve in conference play.

It ended down when the Lady Rebels travelled for an unusual mid-season, out-of-conference, out-of-state game against Couch, Mo., on Jan. 13, and lost 74-53.

The Rebels gave Osceola three tough quarters, but lost 72-61 at home on Jan. 14.

The Lady Indians jumped on Highland quick as Lizzie Nessling had two treys and Crystal Britt and Sarah Neptune each had one to pace Couch to a 16-8 first quarter lead.

Alex Isaacs and Whitney Davis each had a 3-pointer to start the game before the Lady Rebels went about four minutes without scoring. Couch used a stifling full court press to wear down the Lady Rebel offense.

"If you've got good, quick athletes that can just get out and get in the passing lanes and force us to make long passes," said Lady Rebel Head Coach Harlan Davis. "And that's what he's got -- a bunch of athletes that can really get out and pressure you."

Highland found a little more offense in the second with five players scoring, but Couch seemed to hit every bucket.

The Lady Indians increased their lead to 34-21 at halftime.

"I felt like we came out and played like we did earlier in the year," said Lady Indian Head Coach Cecil Meyer. "Kind of got off to a quick start this year and then we hit a little lull and tonight we got back to running the floor, looking ahead and sharing the ball a little bit more."

Although the Lady Rebs found a couple of timely buckets from Chandler Holzhauer, Couch used seven of eight from the free throw line to end the third up, 54-35.

"You've got to go out and try to compete as hard as you can physically and I thought we did that. Boy, they shot it extremely well early on and got up on us. They just kept making plays," Davis said.

Isaacs had nine of her team-leading 20 points and Sydney Shackelford put seven of her 11 points in the fourth in a furious attempt to get Highland back in the game, but Britt's 10 fourth quarter points helped keep Highland from making a dent in the score.

Neptune led the game with 23 points, Britt was second for the Lady Indians with 14, and Nessling and Alex Hower each had 13 for Couch.

Whitney Davis scored 12 for Highland (8-8, 4-2)

Both coaches agreed this break in conference play was beneficial to their respective teams.

"This is a really good game for us," explained Meyer. "Our strength of schedule at times is pretty soft and right now we're getting into an area where maybe it wasn't as strong, so this gives us an opportunity to play somebody good."

"If you can get to the regional tournament, you're going to play this caliber of a basketball team. They're going to do good things and you've got to respond and react to those things. We've got to do a little better job of that," added Davis.

On the back of Brad Harris' shooting, the Highland boys held their own against Osceola on Jan. 11 in the first quarter.

Harris' eight points along with late 3s by Garrett Johnson and Jason Long kept the Rebs close, down just 21-19.

Highland tied the score at 23 early in the second and took a 34-31 lead late in the period, but shots by Warrick Woodson got the Seminoles a 38-36 halftime advantage.

"It's hard to assimilate that quickness in practice," said Rebel Head Coach Chad Arnhart. "Their quickness, it's hard to overcome that."

The Reb defense tightened at the end of the third and buckets by Harris and Sterling Stowers tied the game at 53-all going into the last quarter.

"I thought we did a pretty good job. They scored lots of points. We're not averaging very many points per game. We just kept competing," explained Arnhart. "I just told them no matter what, if we have to score that many points, keep playing, hang in there and I thought they did for the most part."

Osceola proved too much as the Rebels struggled to hit baskets and the Seminoles used a 12-5 run to get some distance on the scoreboard. Osceola made only 1 of 6 from the free throw line, but Highland couldn't take advantage.

"When we got down seven or eight, we had to start gambling. They scored on some of our gambles and made us pay," said Arnhart. "I was proud of my guys. I just thought Osceola played an awfully good game."

Osceola had four players in double figures. Highland (4-9, 2-5) was lead by Harris with 16, Long had nine and Johnson, Stowers and Harris Young added eight each.

The Lady Rebels held a 31-20 halftime lead against Osceola in their game on Jan. 11, but the Lady Seminoles rallied in the second half, cutting Highland's lead to 37-34 at the end of three. Osceola tied the game 46-all with 50 seconds to play, but Bobie Jo Cooper made 3 of 4 from the charity stripe to seal the win for the Lady Rebs.

Playing Brookland for the first time in many years, the Rebels started quick with a 16-4 first quarter. The Bearcats cut the lead to four with five minutes to play in the game, but the Rebs held on for their second conference victory. Johnson and Harris led Highland with 14 points each.

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