Huskies stave off conference foe Hillcrest

By TJ Rhodes
Posted 1/18/23

The Highland Huskies girls’ basketball team advances to 5-7 after a good performance against the struggling, but competitive, Hillcrest Ravens, who fall to 0-12. The final score between teams …

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Huskies stave off conference foe Hillcrest


The Highland Huskies girls’ basketball team advances to 5-7 after a good performance against the struggling, but competitive, Hillcrest Ravens, who fall to 0-12. The final score between teams was 56-37. 

After a three-game skid, Highland has now won two in a row, one as a tightly contested comeback win against the Pekin Panthers, and this one as a dominant performance. Hillcrest cannot seem to rebound, still possessing a winless record.  

Highland came out of the gate with impressive passing and defense that dominated play to their side of the court, jumping out to a 18-6 lead after one quarter. Highland junior, Kelsi Cerny, was among those who impressed with consistent pressure and tight passing.

Highland head coach, Jody Fink, believed the team started better in this game than in previous outings.

“The girls came out from the start and played with some intensity and communicated better than we have in the past,” Fink said.

Highland quickly made it 20-6 as the second quarter began before Hillcrest went on their best run of the game, scoring six straight points off three two-pointers. The home crowd in the Hillcrest Union Gymnasium were getting into the game, cheering after every successful basket scored. Their run was cut short when Highland scored again.

The crowd went from pandemonium to silence. But the crowd was not done cheering since Hillcrest went on yet another run, scoring another five points off the back of Hillcrest sophomore Malia Yoder, who consistently made her way up and down the court, demanding play, verbally yelling for the ball, which helped in the second quarter surge.

Yoder led her team in assists, with six. In one moment in the second quarter, Yoder stole an errant pass and broke away to score on her own. Hillcrest certainly had flashes, showing that they could pull out of this losing streak.

Highland began to pull away after this point however, outscoring Hillcrest 9-5 before halftime. As the teams gathered in the locker rooms, preparing for another half of action, the home crowd was treated to live entertainment, a live band, playing hits from Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” to keep the home crowd engaged.

Highland junior, Sarah Burton, continued her impressive season, and is still the leading scorer on her team after scoring 20 points and bringing her season total to 206. She made all four free throw attempts and eight field goals. Burton also led her team in rebounds whereas senior Katelyn Waters led the team in assists.

“We were more aggressive, shooting the ball and getting shots up,” Fink said. “We are starting to get other kids to step up and become major contributors to the team, overall.”

Scoring nearly half of Hillcrest’s points was Freshman, Claire Withrow, with 18. Hillcrest freshman Niva Helmuth led in rebounds with ten.

The second quarter was the only quarter that Hillcrest outplayed the disciplined Highland squad. Freshman, Adisyn Prottsman, opened the scoring for Highland in the third. Highland began the second half of play focused on creating distance to put down the Ravens swiftly.

Highland continued this mentality with a 10-4 run in the fourth, with a final score of 56-37. As the shot clock and game clock ran out, Highland held on to the ball to ensure no penalties or mistakes could leave a sour taste in this otherwise dominant win.

Coach Fink still believes there is more his team can do to improve for the rest of the season, breaking .500 winning percentage and possibly gaining a winning record in the foreseeable future. Fink believes that on defense, his team still “lacked” on identifying players, and is something to work on.

These two teams have played each other since 2009, and the Highland Huskies continue a long-standing tradition of winning the head-to-head matchup, with a 24-2 record against Hillcrest Academy.

Next week for Hillcrest: Tuesday, January 17 @ Lone Tree, 6:00 P.M.; Friday, January 20 vs. Louisa-Muscatine, 6:00 P.M..

Next week for Highland: Tuesday, January 17 @ Louisa-Muscatine, 6:00 P.M.; Friday, January 20 vs. Pekin, 6:00 P.M..


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