SPARTA — It was a matter of teamwork and good old-fashioned school yard fun. The Highland Scots made it look easy as they rolled over the visiting Buckeye Valley Barons, burying them, 61-33, in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference girls basketball action on Tuesday.
The Scots (7-3, 1-3 MOAC) jumped ahead, 10-0, and might have turned it into a rout right then and there, but the Barons (0-10, 0-5 MOAC) finally found the range. Lauren Hassinger (5-for-7 field goals, 15 points, six rebounds) hit a 3-pointer near the end of the opening quarter to keep the Barons close, 12-8. She hit three 3s for the game.
That only delayed the inevitable as the Scots, after drawing further ahead before halftime, threw it into high gear in the third quarter. Highland’s Kristen Anderson (6-for-8 fgs, 12 points, four steals) stole the ball and took it all the way to the other end of the court for the layup. The Scots were on their way, 32-14.
“We came out strong in that third quarter,” said Highland girls basketball coach Galen Chapman. “We’ve been stressing defense and rebounding. We came out, put a little pressure on in the third quarter and got a little run. That’s what we were after.”
Payton Denman (six assists, 3-for-6 fgs) sparked the Scots’ 19-point third-quarter onslaught as she dished it to Anderson, who hit another bucket. Denman hit one of her own on her next trip down the floor to make it 39-17.
“That’s part of becoming a team,” Chapman said of the Scots’ passing game. “Payton always tries to look for her teammates. Sometimes she forces it a bit. Yes, she’s looking for assists and that’s a sign of unselfish play and teamwork and that’s what we’ve been trying to do.”
Highland’s Tarren Thacker (14 points, 6-for-8 fgs, five rebounds) hit a basket and her freshman sister, Heather (5-for-6 fgs, 10 points), hit a pair inside, all assisted by Denman to increase the Scots’ lead to a commanding 47-20. Cassie Brown’s (two steals) jumper from the top of the key with 0:25 to go in the third made it a 49-20 Scots’ lead.
“That’s a part of what we’re trying to do,” said Chapman. “These girls are getting better at catching the ball and finishing and that’s confidence both ways. For them, it’s more about team. It’s nice to have that inside-out game.”
“We just started having fun,” said Denman. “Winning is fun and, when we saw a 15-point lead, we just kept our pace and kept it going. Kelsey Burt (five points) is a leader out there. She’s always looking up the floor. Anderson is a big asset to the team as well.”
Highland wasn’t done. Shayla Pierce (four points) hit a pair of buckets in the fourth and Tarren Thacker had a bucket to stretch out the Scots’ lead to 55-20 — their biggest lead of the game.
“I think that we didn’t care how many points we scored,” said Denman. “We just went to the basket and helped each other out and we all got our share of points.”
The Highland jayvee team had a tougher time than the varsity, but defeated Buckeye Valley, 35-32. The Scots were led by Sam Zuber, who had 16 points. Katelyn Moore had 17 for the Barons.