The Highland girls basketball team wrapped up its 2022-2023 season with a 10-12 record, a 8-8 record in conference play, and a first round playoff win over English Valleys. With the season being over …
The Highland girls basketball team wrapped up its 2022-2023 season with a 10-12 record, a 8-8 record in conference play, and a first round playoff win over English Valleys. With the season being over it was time for players to be recognized for their efforts and there were four players on the Huskies who earned all-conference honors in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference- North Division.
Selected first-team all-conference in the SEISC North was Highland junior Sarah Burton. Burton was the leading scorer for the Huskies on the season with 377 points. With the next highest scorer for the Huskies finishing with 151 points there was no doubt a large majority of Highland’s offensive output came from Burton.
“Sarah Burton did everything she was asked to do all season long. She was a complete team player with having to rebound, score, help bring the ball up on occasion, you name it she did it,” Highland head coach Jody Fink said. “She is not a vocal person very often but needs to work on that moving forward. She leads by example.”
Leading with her actions more than her words Burton on offense was always a focal point for opposing defenses and even with all that attention she was still able to power to the basket and make her shots.
A true all-around player, she led the Huskies in rebounds with 284, was the team leader in steals with 87, and also led the team in blocks with 58.
“She wasn’t always the tallest girl on the floor but yet played as one of the biggest at all times,” Fink said about Burton. “She reads the ball off of the shot and can usually tell where it is going by the release and trajectory of the shot. She knows her opponents well. She was one of the best in the conference hands down. Her team play abilities are superb and trying to get everyone involved as much as possible is outstanding.”
Highland senior Katelyn Waters was selected second-team all conference in the SEISC North. In the last season of her high school basketball career Waters scored 112 points, the third most on the team. She was one of two players, the other being Burton, who started every game for the Huskies. A player with a versatile style of play, she was a key difference maker in many of Highland’s games this season and throughout her high school career.
“Katelyn Waters was the ultimate role player throughout her career. Katelyn did all of the little odd jobs we needed her to do without question,” Fink said. “Her Junior year she was one of the best defenders in the conference and played her role defensively and rebounding helping with the ball handling. Her senior season she had to take over the point guard role and did so with open arms welcoming the challenge and leading our team.”
Being able to pass the ball to her teammates in order for them to score is what Waters excelled at this season. Leading Highland with 132 assists, her ability to scan the court and dish out quality passes was something she did quite often. On defense Waters had the second most steals for Highland with 61 and she was able to collect 83 rebounds.
“She was one of the state leaders, top five through the regular season, in assists and took exceptional pride in that, but when we needed her to score near the end of the season, she took on that challenge also. Hopefully [Highland teammates] see her work ethic and effort that she gave each day and night on the floor and they pick up a little of that from her,” Fink said about Waters. “She wasn’t the star at any time of her career but she took her role and owned it completely and without question. She did what the team needed each and every night, whether it was the same role or a different one. She adjusted and took it.”
Highland senior Jessica Kraus was an honorable mention for all-conference this season. Kraus was the second highest scorer for the Huskies with 151 points. A leader on and off the court Highland could rely on Kraus being the type of player who always strived to improve her game.
“Jessica Kraus was a good role player playing a post as an undersized post. She was a great leader for younger athletes and did whatever you asked of her to do. Her play improved throughout the season as well as her range,” Fink said. “She always worked on her skills trying to improve each day. I will miss her contagious smile and infectious personality. She is great to have on your team and can raise the attitude of any team. She played bigger than she was. You don’t have to be big to play, work on your position and know your opponents.”
Kraus’ ability to box out opponents to secure rebounds and score putback points off of those rebounds was an aspect of her game she was quite skilled at. She had the second most rebounds for the Huskies with 102, stole the ball 15 times, and ended the season with 18 assists.
Another honorable all-conference mention for Highland was junior Stella Slaymaker. Slaymaker finished the season with 43 points, 95 rebounds, and 29 steals. A player who has what it takes to be a pivotal leader on the team, she continues to improve her basketball skill so she can provide the team with whatever they ask of her.
“Stella Slaymaker is a nonstop player. She is another great teammate and role player. Her post work has continued to evolve and continues to work on that,” Fink said. “She has added her ball handling to help break the press and continues to work on her shooting skills to improve moving forward. Her greatest attribute is her willingness to do what the team needs at that time.”