CENTERBURG — The Highland Scots only held a three-point lead at the break, but the team poured on 33 points in the second half to cruise to a 59-36 win over the Centerburg Trojans in front of a back-and-forth crowd Friday to further extend their lead in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference standings.
“Our guys really just kept our cool and played ball,” Highland senior Mack Anglin said of the environment. “We live for environments like that and if you’re good, people will show up. It was a really fun environment and hopefully we will have a lot more like that.”
The game started with both teams trading blows. Highland splashed home five 3-pointers in the opening eight minutes, with two from Anglin. The Scots notched 17 points in the first to take a five-point lead over the home team. Carter Jones had eight of Centerburg’s 12 first-quarter points.
After the back-and-forth blows in the first quarter, the second quarter saw both teams settle in and the scoring dipped a bit to open the period. Highland continued to hold a marginal lead, but the Trojans fought back. A pass from Dalton Hall to a cutting Hayden Sutten led to a Centerburg bucket with two second left to cut the lead to three, 26-23, heading into the locker room. The Trojans outscored the Scots 11-9 in the second period off another five points from Jones.
“We had good heart and we closed the gap on them,” Centerburg coach Skyler Brusco said. “They had scored pretty well in the first quarter on us and then our guys made adjustments and I thought our guys showed a lot of heart to come back.”
The third quarter proved to be the difference. Highland came out strong and opened the period on a 10-0 run to push the lead to 36-23 with 4:02 left in the third. Four Scots scored in the third to rack up 15 points for the team, while Centerburg was limited to four points, setting the Highland advantage at 41-27 with eight minutes to go.
“We just wanted to continue the things we were doing,” Powell said. “We agreed at halftime that we just needed to put the pedal to the metal and go full-throtle. It’s our guys’ attention to detail. It’s our guys effort and it’s their desire. We talked in the locker room before the game that we’ve got one heartbeat with this team.”
Highland saved its highest scoring output for the fourth quarter, where the team amassed 18 points, doubling up Centerburg’s nine. Anglin got busy in the paint, knocking down four shots in the bucket, and he converted an and-one opportunity to score nine in the frame. Four other Scots chipped in with a basket apiece. Jones had two made shots from inside the arc to lead the Trojans with four points in the fourth, but Centerburg was unable to muster any rally attempt.
“A game like this you can be thankful for to look at and say, ‘Here’s what we need to get better at,’” Brusco said. “I think the two things that stick out to me is going against pressure, and I think we’ve got to do better getting our shots offensively.”
Anglin led all scorers with 22 points, which he paired with four boards, two assists, two steals and a big swat.
“My teammates created so much for me,” Anglin said. “Our chemistry is unbelievable. I can trust them with anything and they open up a lot for me. They make my part easy.”
In total, the Scots had nine scorers, with Anglin as the only one in double figures. Ian Taylor notched eight points and an assist, while Andrew Wheeler had seven points, two boards and a team-high five dimes. Branton Howard finished with six points and Noah Dado kicked in five points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Chase Carpenter, Jordan Bellamy, Ty Stiffler and Clay Schindley combined for the remaining 11 points.
“Give our guys a ton of credit. They’ve come in on their own and put up extra shots. They’ve made sure in practice they’re way more diligent with their shot mechanics and their details and their discipline,” Powell said of the balanced scoring. “Those are all things that make a huge difference for us. Then you get a couple to go in and you get some confidence. You see the guys get more excited and the bench get more excited and you’ve got the momentum going, and it’s something special.”
Jones led the Trojans in scoring, with 19 points, and on the glass, with seven rebounds. The sophomore packed his stat line with an assist and two blocks. Hayden Hankinson just missed double figures, recording nine points, three rebounds, two assists and a block. Hall drained four freebies to notch four points, while Mick Mead and Sutton each had two points. Hall also led the team with three assists.
The loss drops the Trojans to 8-5 on the year. Their 6-3 mark in the KMAC ties them for second in the standings. Centerburg returns to action Tuesday on the road against Bishop Ready with action starting at 5:30 p.m.
Highland grabbed a commanding two-game lead in the league standings with the win, improving to 8-6 and 8-1 in the conference. The Scots will look for their first non-conference win Tuesday on the road against Licking Valley, with freshmen kicking things off at 4:30 p.m., before returning to conference play Friday to try and lock up the top spot.
“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Anglin said. “We can’t fall asleep on anyone. We’ve just got to take the next step. This was a good one, but it’s in the past now. We’re focusing on the future.”