SPARTA — Following Thursday’s game, a fan shook Highland girls’ head basketball coach Galen Chapman’s hand and said they had fun.
Chapman’s response was, with a smile, “I’m glad you did.”
The game certainly was not fun for any coach. A slew of missed shots, turnovers and careless fouls on both sides eventually gave rise to a 35-31 Highland victory over visiting Cardington.
Highland stepped it up when they had to. Cradling a one-point lead at the start of the second half, the Scots scored the next seven points in a 2 1/2 minute stretch. The run put Highland in a position to dictate the rest of the game.
“The word was our defense. Our defense kept us in the game. Everyone was playing good defense. I credit that to a good team effort,” Chapman said.
Highland’s defense did step up. The team tallied 10 steals throughout the game and forced 24 turnovers. Their last big play of the night told the story –– Cassie Brown stole the ball from Cardington’s Kianna Sedlacek with 12 seconds left, then sank both free throws to give Highland an insurmountable four-point lead.
Cardington’s best weapon is Sedlacek. Highland’s Shanay Gibson was given the task of guarding her. By the end of the night, Sedlacek had just nine points.
“Shanay playing the way she did, she did a great job. She basically shut (Sedlacek) down tonight,” Chapman said.
Gibson ended the night with three points, six assists and two steals.
Sophomore Heather Thacker hit the shots when it counted, leading the Scots with 14 points. Her six boards were one shy of senior Payton Denman’s game high of seven.
“Heather plays hard every day. She’s always good for blocking out, and always working down low,” Chapman said.