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Winfield-Mount Union came into their game against Highland averaging nearly 54 points per game, but a stout Highland zone intent on keeping the ball out of the middle held them to just 34 points.
That was our plan, to take away their strength in there and not give them the inside,” Highland coach Jody Fink said.
That pressure on defense led to a strong opening quarter for the Huskies who took their lead to 18-4 after the first eight minutes. One big reason for that according to Fink was Highland’s ability to grab rebounds and get out in transition.
“We did a great job, I thought, on the boards,” Fink said. “They didn’t really get many second-chance shots.”
A big contributor to the large run in the first quarter was Holly Schneider, who was 2-2 from 3-point range during the quarter.
“It was a huge confidence booster for her, and she’s also not afraid to attack the middle even though she’s 5-foot 1-inch tall,” Fink said.
The end of the first half wasn’t as hot for Highland as a bout of turnovers let Winfield-Mount Union close on a 7-0 run and bring the Highland lead to nine at halftime with a score of 22-13.
Highland’s second half began with a bang as Brylee Carolan extended the lead back to double digits with a 3-point shot and Murphy Beinhart added a backdoor layup to make it 27-13 early in the third quarter.
Beinhart had nine points, all in the second half and said for her patience was the key. “The second half I just found more open spots and hustled a little more,” Beinhart said. “We started working the ball around a bit faster in the second half.”
The lead was 11 for Highland at the end of the third quarter, but that quickly shrunk as they entered the fourth.
At the 2:57 mark of the quarter some points off turnovers had cut the Highland lead to 36-31. The lead didn’t get closer than five points due to solid free-throw shooting from Beinhart and Stokes.
“I feel pretty comfortable there, I try and shut everyone out and focus on my shot,” Beinhart said.
Highland was 9-15 from the free-throw line on the night with Beinhart leading the charge there going 5-8. On the other hand Winfield-Mount Union was 6-13 from the charity stripe.
Eventually Highland closed out the game for a 43-34 win to move to 4-0 on the season. They have held every opponent below 35 points so far this season, a big reason for their early success according to Fink.
On the offensive end, Highland was led by Stokes with 13 points. He said she has adjusted well in moving to lead the team. He said her role has changed from Robin to Batman this year and she’s excelled at it.
Right now Stokes is averaging 12.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 6.5 blocks per game.
Winfield-Mount Union: 4;9;7;14;34
Aly Stokes 13
Murphy Beinhart 9
Holly Schneider 7
Abbie Miller 10
Murphy Beinhart 4
Ugly win over Columbus
Highland also took on Columbus Community last week with Stokes adding a triple-double to lead the Huskies to victory 33-19. She had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Fink said overall the game wasn’t pretty, but the Huskies will gladly take the win.
“It was a sloppy night and an ugly win but a win’s a win and we will continue to improve and move forward,” Fink said.
Highland’s game against Iowa Mennonite on Tuesday was postponed so their next contest will be Friday at Louisa-Muscatine.
Columbus Community: 2;8;5;4;19
Aly Stokes 15
Abbie Miller 9
Murphy Beinhart 6