LANCASTER — This just in if you haven’t heard. The Highland boy’s basketball team is really good.
New head coach, same ‘ol Bulldogs.
And that’s why Highland year in and year out is considered one of the favorites in the Golden League.
The Bulldogs remained perfect in league play as they cruised to an easy 77-46 victory over AV High, Wednesday evening at Antelope Valley High School.
The game was a makeup game from last Friday evening when both the ‘Lopes and Bulldogs were playing in different tournaments.
“This was a last minute prep for AV because we had a game yesterday (against Lancaster), but we rolled over today what we did yesterday,” Highland head coach Tim Anderson said. “I thought we did okay. We made a lot of mistakes and we didn’t execute well. I guess we kind of had dead legs and we didn’t look too sharp.”
Anderson is in his first year as head coach for Highland. He and Jeff Smith were considered co-coaches for the past several years. Prior to that Smith was the main head coach. Smith, who was in attendance to watch his protégé, decided to call it quits following the end of last season after the Bulldogs lost in the second round of the playoffs to San Marcos, the eventual Division 2A champions.
Highland (6-2, 3-0) jumped out to a 16-3 lead in the first quarter. The Bulldogs benefitted from several AV High turnovers in the first quarter and converted them into easy fast break layups. Highland’s defense held the ‘Lopes to only two field goals and led 20-5 after the first quarter.
“Playing back-to-backs are tough, especially at this level and we have to get back to our principles,” Anderson said. “Tonight we were a little undisciplined. But any win in league is a good win.”
The Bulldogs connected on two consecutive 3-pointer by Jayden Madise and Chris Devis to extend the lead to 30-9. Later in the quarter, Devis netted another 3-pointer and Highland led 35-17 with 1:20 remaining.
Madise (10 points) was one of four players in double figures for the Bulldogs. The other three were Julian Williams (17 points), Damian Guest (16 points) and Justin Hill (14 points).
Still AV High played much better in the second quarter behind Andrew Knox’ seven points in the second frame. Highland only outscored the ‘Lopes 17-14 in the quarter and led 37-19 at halftime.
“We had a game plan and we came out and executed the game plan. I thought we played good, pressure defense,” said Williams. “Right now we’re still fixing little things. Tonight we just focused on AV. We never look ahead and focus in the opponent in front of us.”
Luis Guerra hit a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter for the ‘Lopes to cut the lead to 43-27. However, each time AV High tried to rally, the Bulldogs went on four or six point runs to extend their lead.
“They’re a good team and we’re struggling a little bit right now. I think we’re still growing and we have fundamental stuff to work on,” AV High head coach Ed Campbell II said. “We have to put the little things together. We’re only playing well in small spurts. We have to have a short memory about this game and focus on Lancaster on Friday.”
Knox led AV High with 13 points and Shermar Gilmore and Aaron Nuñez each added seven points for the ‘Lopes.
“Despite this loss I think we improved as a team. In our last game I thought we played selfish, but today we played more as a team,” Knox said. “We’ve faced our ups and downs. (Against Lancaster) on Friday we have to come out with a more aggressive mindset. That game is extremely important for us to bounce back as a team.”