By Mark Jurgena
Coach Clinton Hamilton and his Highland girls basketball team began their season at the Salem tournament with a win over Carterville before dropping two games over the weekend.
Highland 44 Carterville 43
The Highland girls basketball team opened their season on November 18th at the Salem Tournament by beating Carterville 44-43.
“We played really well that day,” said Hamilton. “We did a good job of making it difficult for their guards to get into the lane, they’re kind of a drive first team. We won 44-43 so defensively we really limited them. It was just one of those games where we found a way to win.”
While preventing layups is always a good thing, it can also prevent the other team from taking free throws. That was certainly true in this game as CHS shot two free throws the entire game, while Highland made five.
The Lions featured NCAA Division I signee Alecia Doyle, a Southeast Missouri State commit, and her 20.1 points per game from last season. Doyle was Class 2A all-state last season and was also the Player of the Year in the Southern Illinoisan area.
Highland held her to 15 points and forced her out to the three-point arc where she went 1-for-5 for the game.
For Highland, Abby Schultz had 12 points and four rebounds while Grace Wilke filled up the stat sheet with 11 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and one steal. Larissa Taylor also marked up the statistical charts with eight points, eight rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots.
Centralia 50 Highland 39
They returned to Salem on November 20th for two games. In their opener, they struggled against Centralia but came alive in the 2nd half before ultimately coming up a bit short on the scoreboard.
“Kind of just from the tip they took it to us,” said Hamilton. ”They were athletic. They really only played five kids but their five starters were super athletic. They just beat us up on the offensive glass. We gave up 14 offensive rebounds.”
To add to that, the Bulldogs had a subpar night from the field. They shot 23% on the evening. HHS went 9-for-34 from two and 4-for-22 outside the arc.
“We couldn’t kick it in the ocean,” said Hamilton.
While Highland didn’t shoot it very well, Hamilton was impressed with the resiliency of his team.
At the half, the Orphan Annies led HHS 24-12. But Highland outscored Centralia 18-6 in the 3rd period to tie the score. To open the fourth, Highland briefly took a 32-30 lead but they couldn’t keep the momentum, gave up an 8-0 run, and ended up falling to CHS.
Wilke had ten points and 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs. Taylor and Abby Huelsman added eight points each. Abby Schultz had seven rebounds and four assists.
Teutopolis 66 Highland 28
In their second game of the day, they fell to perennial Class 2A power Teutopolis.
“I challenged our girls to see what kind of team we could be after not playing our best,” said Hamilton. “I didn’t do a very good job of challenging us. They just kind of jumped us from the gate. You’ve got to credit T-Town. They made it tough on us on both ends of the floor.
“We’re young and super inexperienced. We’re just trying to adapt on the fly.”
Wilke again had ten points for the game. Taylor led the team with four rebounds and three assists.
Highland hosted SWC co-favorite O’Fallon Monday night and Breese (Central) Wednesday. Results were unavailable at press time. They finish the Salem tourney Saturday against the host school.