Sam Vinson’s 20 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists led Highlands past St. Henry 74-68 as the Bluebirds are now one win away from their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2001.
Vinson, a Northern Kentucky University signee, was one of five Bluebirds to crack double digits on the night for head coach Kevin Listerman’s squad including Zachary Barth, Luke Muller, Oliver Harris and William Herald.
Barth totaled 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting including a pair of 3-pointers.
Harris and Herald netted 13 points apiece while Muller added 12.
The first quarter was close from the opening throw-in to the buzzer, but Highlands (25-4) took a 21-19 lead into the second quarter where the Bluebirds stretched out their lead to 36-27 at halftime.
Highlands would take its largest lead at 41-27 with the first basket of the third quarter and was able to eventually stave off a furious rally attempt by the Crusaders.
St. Henry (18-4) had previous defeated Highlands this season on Jan. 9 by an 82-80 score and won the All “A” Class title just over two weeks,
The Crusaders were led by Wyatt Vieth’s 22 points, five assists, three steals and two blocked shots.
Vieth, who will be joining Scotty Davenport’s Bellarmine Knights in the fall, was 9-for-19 from the field and gave his team everything he could from start to finish.
Jude Bessler notched a double=double in his final game for St. Henry with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Cory Shea turned in an awesome performance for St. Henry with 15 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals, but the Crusaders were unable to overcome a 38.6 shooting performance for the game.
St. Henry won the points in the paint battle by a 26-12 margin, but Highlands was able to better convert turnovers into points. The Bluebirds forced 12 turnovers by the Crusaders and rack up 21 points while St, Henry only got 13 points off 15 Highlands turnovers.
Cougars advance past Colonels
Landen Hamilton and Spencer Couzins tallied 19 points each as Conner easily defeated Dixie Heights 71-54.
Conner (17-6) was lights out from beyond the arc and led by Couzins and Hamilton with five made 3-pointters apiece.
Dixie Heights (21-6) won the previous meeting between the two squads by a 70-50 final on Jan. 12 and had been playing extremely well in recent weeks including a win over Covington Catholic in last week’s 34th District championship game.
The Colonels were led in scoring by Jasom Summe with 18 points and he was closely followed by Kiernan Geraci, who netted 13 points.
Conner will be playing for its first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1993.
The Cougars and Bluebirds will face off in the 9th Region title game at Holmes High School’s Evans Fieldhouse on Friday night with the game starting at 7 p.m.