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Highland boys basketball team eyeing league title

1/9/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

GRANGER — Through the first nine games of the season, the Highland High School boys basketball team was out to a 6-3 overall record, including a 4-1 mark in the Suburban League.

“We’ve had a tough nonleague schedule to date, and our schedule is about where I thought we’d be,” said head coach Mike Murphy. “We’re scoring a lot of points. We’re getting up and down the court, and while I think we have some more work to do on defense, we are doing pretty well on offense.”

Murphy said there is a nice mix of experience between his players, including a pair of returning starters from last season: junior point guard Tanner Houska and junior forward Brogan Scott.

“Tanner has played varsity basketball since he was a freshman, so this is really his third year. As point guards go, he kind of leads our team and gets us in our sets. He is the commander on the floor for us, and he’s averaging 12 to 13 points a game with six or seven assists. He does a great job for us offensively and defensively,” the coach said. “Brogan is playing the post for us and he’s playing a little out of position, because we are very undersized. He’s about 6-foot-5, and he should probably be playing the three, but for us he does play the five. He’s averaging above 20 points and above 10 rebounds a game. He’s our go-to guy, our scorer, and the best thing about him is that he’s so consistent.”

In addition, Murphy said, two seniors are starting for the team for the first time during their careers at Highland: small forward Alec Withers and guard Alex Wood.

“Alec is the hardest-working member of my team — before practice or after practice, he’s always working on his game. It’s really showing, too. He’s really come a long way,” the coach said. “Alex played varsity for us last year, and he’s kind of our defensive stopper. He’s a guy who does a lot of different things. He doesn’t score a ton, but he always has the toughest assignment on the other team for us.”

The team’s final starter this season is junior guard Ben Hauser.

“He’s a shooter and he’s averaging seven or eight points a game,” Murphy said. “He’s a three-point threat. He’s a guy who likes to shoot the ball and get up and down the floor.”

The other four players in the rotation are juniors Coltin Kinsey, Kevin Greenhoe and Zach Levine and sophomore Tyler Frederick.

“Offensively, we’re probably ahead of where I thought we’d be, and defensively we are behind where I want us to be,” Murphy said. “We’re giving up too many easy baskets, and there are still too many different types of breakdowns, but part of that is because we really, truly don’t have any big people. I have a bunch of guards — you know, 5-foot-11, 6-foot kids — that need to play against 6-foot-3 guys, and they’re just a little out of position. But we’re working on it, and I think we’re getting better as the days go.”

According to the coach, Highland’s No. 1 goal is “absolutely to win the Suburban League.”

“We haven’t done that in a long time, but I think we have the personnel to do it,” Murphy said. “We just have to get it done.”

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