Our very own Highland Scots boys basketball varsity team made an impressive run in this year’s playoffs making it all the way to the CIF Division VI championship, coming in as the number three seed. The playoffs were in full swing starting with a blowout win in the first round against the Mojave Mustangs.
Highland started off this game guns blazing up and down the court. Lance Hayward started Highland’s momentum by creating space very easily for himself and getting a euro-step layup. Highland was able to get two steals and capitalize on them with layups and put on defensive stops holding Mojave to only three points after the first quarter, ending with an 8-3 run.
Karam Safa scored the first bucket of the second quarter, but Mojave started to put on a little scoring run for themselves. This was until Highland went on a shooting clinic and no one couldn’t miss from the field. Aaron Torres started it with a pull-up midrange, which was followed up by Mando Castruita’s corner three, then Lance answered that with a three of his own. Jared Rollie and Mondo started connecting and then Jared was able to get a score in himself coming off the bench!
He followed that up with a dish to Mando for the three, then Jared got a steal and threw an outlet pass to Mando to end the half 41-24 Highland.
Karam started the second half with a pump fake layup which got the defense jumping. Highland continued to pull off stops in almost every defensive position and answered them with a great transition offensive. They were able to find each other and knock down shots. Jared thrived in these transition opportunities with his ability to catch and shoot before the defense was able to get set. Jared started his hot streak with a catch-and-shoot three, and he followed up with a top-of-the-key three and ended the quarter with a layup. This put Highland in a comfortable lead 73-30 to end the third quarter~
Highland’s bench shined in the fourth quarter, putting up points and getting defensive stops. It seemed that they didn’t budge to take their foot off the pedal. Highland showed great ball movement and their transition offensive thrived due to their defensive stops putting them in excellent positions. Highland ended the game 83-43, winning the first round of playoffs in incredible fashion with a blowout win, which moved them onto the second round facing the sixth seed — Lone Pine.
Coming off of an amazing game in the first round, Highland takes on the number six seed Lone Pine in the second round to continue their playoff journey.
Both teams came out to play in a tough first quarter, and they both put on defensive stops. Jared Rollie started the Scots off with a three, which was followed by a quick bucket coming from Dvon Bennett after splitting the defense. Lance Hayward scored a pull-up jumper from the baseline to end this tough defensive quarter, 7-5 Scots.
To start the second quarter, Lance gets fouled and sent to the free throw line and knocks down both free throws. Mando Castruita goes on a scoring run, starting with a three, followed up with a steal of his own and going all the way for a contested layup in transition! After a defensive stop from Highland, Mando knocked down a midrange jumper, and Lance followed up with a corner three of his own. Paul Garcia forces a turnover which led to Karam Safa getting a layup and a foul — completing an And-1. Lance drains the clock and sizes up the defensive and splits the defense to get a last-second layup, which added to Highland’s 20-1 scoring run to end the half 27-6 Highland.
Lance starts the third quarter with a euro step layup, which he followed up with a three as well. Jared answers back with a three of his own, and an assist to a cutting Zack Ornelas, who gets an assist of his own with a bullet pass to Aaron Torres for a layup. After back-to-back defensive stops, Lance ends the quarter with a fadeaway corner three to beat the buzzer to end the quarter 43-13 Highland.
As the quarter starts, Lance starts it off with a tough layup, which is followed by Wesley Tolbert with a layup of his own assisted by Zack. Highland’s bench shines in the fourth quarter offensively and defensively. They continue to put on a defensive clinic which gave them more opportunities to score. Highland’s bench goes on a 10-4 scoring run to end the game. Highland wins 57-23, knocking out Lone Pine from the playoffs, and moving on to the third round to face the number two seed — Chowchilla!
Highland took on the number two seed Chowchilla, in a close and thrilling game that ended 46-41 Highland.
For the CIF Division VI Championship, Highland takes on the number one seed Taft Wildcats at the Selland Arena in Fresno. After a tough-fought game, that came to the final seconds, Highland falls to Taft 41-43. Highland played an incredible game and overall a good season, where we saw them go all the way to the championship — so close to winning it all.
Photographed by Jayden Anglin