Saturday, March 10, 2001

Highlands beats Simon Kenton in OT




By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer contributor

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Highland's Derrik Moeves goes up and over Simon Kenton's Ryan Hurt.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
        COVINGTON - Highlands' Ross Neltner scored four of his 15 points in overtime to lead the Bluebirds to a 49-46 victory over Simon Kenton in a Ninth Region semifinal Friday at Holmes.

        Highlands takes on Conner - a 57-53 overtime winner over defending regional champion Newport Central Catholic - for the title at 7 p.m. tonight.

        The prize: Fourth Region champion Russellville in the opening round of the state Sweet 16 at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

        Highlands (21-8) is seeking its fourth regional title in the last five years (the Bluebirds took three from 1997-99 and reached the '97 finals). Conner wants to go to Rupp for the first time since 1993.

        Neltner, a sophomore center, grabbed six rebounds, blocked six shots and scored four of Highlands' six overtime points. He drew his fourth foul with 3:58 left in regulation but managed to stay in the game, which was key for Highlands.

        “I couldn't foul out,” Neltner said. “I still had to play.”

        Neltner's sixth block - a swat of Simon Kenton senior guard Jordan Stowers' attempted layup with two seconds left in regulation.

        “That was risky, wasn't it?” Neltner said. “I thought they'd get me.”

        Simon Kenton's try at a tying 3-pointer missed the mark.

        Pioneers coach Scott Humphrey summarized the game in two words: no regrets.

        “The shots didn't fall,” Humphrey said. “Both teams made plays; they just made one more.”

        Simon Kenton finished the season 22-9. Humphrey called senior Kevin Cristello (who led the Pio neers with 13 points and 11 rebounds) a player with the “heart of a lion” and Stowers one of the best in school history.

        Highlands showed perseverance under adverse conditions - the Bluebirds shot 47.1 percent from the field but made 7 of 17 free throws.

        “I think both teams were comparable,” Highlands coach John Messmer said.

        Highlands also continued to show it could do more than give the ball senior forward Gino Guidugli and Neltner. Senior guard Mylor Rider scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.

        Simon Kenton erased a nine- point deficit in the third quarter. A 10-0 run led by Cristello's four points helped put the Pioneers ahead with 2:29 left in the third quarter.

        Messmer said tonight's final is a result of a balanced region.

        “We're where we want to be,” he said.

        HIGHLANDS (49) — Rider 3 1 10, Forbes 4 0 8, G. Guidugli 5 1 12, Moeves 1 2 4, Neltner 6 3 15. Totals: 19 7 49.

        SIMON KENTON (46) — Stowers 4 2 10, Cristello 5 3 13, Brock 5 2 12, Reed 3 0 8, Baker 1 0 3. Totals: 18 7 46.

        Highlands13 12 7 11 6 - 49

        Simon Kenton16 3 12 12 3 - 46

        Three-point goals: H-Rider 3, G. Guidugli; SK-Reed 2, Baker. Records: H 21-8, SK 22-9.

       



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