A change in the format put all games -- including the early round girls' games -- on the main floor. That meant the Lady Rebels had to get to the Convocation Center early on Dec. 21, for a 10:30 a.m. start.
The gentleman Rebels would play six games later the same day at 7:00.
The new format paid dividends for the tournament, as it found itself 50 minutes ahead of schedule by the time the second-to-last team finished.
Unfortunately, Augusta was still on the road travelling to the Convo Center at that time for their match with Black Rock.
Both Highland teams were knocked out of the tournament in the first round.
The Lady Rebs were nipped by Manila 44-41, and the Rebs were blown out by Trumann for a second time in seven days -- this time by a score of 77-44.
Against Manila, the Lady Rebels forced more turnovers, had basically the same shooting percentage, and made the most of their free throws, but Manila made more 3-point shots.
After being down by as much as eight points, Highland rallied back to tie the game twice in the fourth quarter.
Sydney Shackelford hit two from the free throw line and Hope Isaacs made a bucket to tie the game at 37-all early in the final period. The same duo added another four points to tie it again at 41-all.
Highland finished the game with four turnovers and no additional points.
"Maybe later in the year, when we get a little more experience, maybe one or two possessions won't be quite a critical as the one or two possessions are now," said Lady Rebel Head Coach Harlan Davis.
On the other side, Manila's Deven Burrow knocked down a 3-pointer with a minute left for the game winner.
Shackelford and Tabby McNulty each put in treys to keep pace with Lady Lions ending the first quarter down 12-10.
Manila had three 3-pointers to start the second quarter and nailed another one late to maintain their lead, 26-24, at the half. Isaacs had nine points in the period, including a 3-pointer for the Lady Rebs.
The long-range strikes stopped falling for the Lady Lions, as they hit just 1 of 6 in the third quarter, but they were able to extend their lead to 37-33 by the end of the period.
Isaacs led Highland (3-7, 2-2) with 17 points, and Shackelford added 12.
The Lady Rebels attempted 19 3-pointers in the game, hitting five of them.
"(Before the season started) We knew we were going to have to depend a lot on perimeter shots. Then we backed off, quit looking for shots. We emphasized we're going to have to shoot the ball from the perimeter," explained Davis.
The Rebels led 4-2 after Garrett Johnson made both of his free throws.
Ethan Hoppe tied the game at 8-all with three minutes to go in the first, but Trumann went on a 16-6 run to finish the opening period and put the Wildcats up 24-14.
Highland had six points to start the second, but Trumann finished the half on a 21-3 run to go into the locker room at half with a 53-23 advantage.
Cody Odell hit a bucket to start the third quarter and another to end the quarter. In between, Trumann went on a 15-2 run to extend their lead to 70-34.
Playing the entire fourth quarter with the clock running, Highland outscored Trumann 10-7 to finish the game.
Hoppe led Highland (1-8, 0-4) with 12 points, followed by Odell with 10.