Highland girls just two wins from historic trip to Austin

In making the playoffs for the 10th straight year, the Highland girls basket-ball team took awhile to really catch fire.Highland (22-11) lost its first three games of the season, and didn’t get above .500 for good until beating Ira 62-29 on Dec. 21 to improve to 9-8. But a closer look indi-cates those early “strug-gles” were a bit deceiving. Five of the first eight losses were to eventual playoff teams and three came against Hamlin (twice) and Roby, who are still alive and kicking.So is Highland, which advanced to the Region II-A, Division II tournament with a 53-32 win over Bronte Tuesday at Angelo State University.There’s no question the Lady Hornets are playing their best basketball right now, and it couldn’t come at a better time. With two more wins this weekend at Abilene Christian University’s Moody Coliseum — beginning with its semifinal against seventh-ranked Newcastle that tips off at 2 p.m. Friday — High-land will earn a trip to the state tournament in Austin for the first time. Newcastle (29-5) beat No. 5 Throckmorton 62-47 in its regional quarterfinal.Two of Highland’s three playoff wins came against teams it faced in the regular season. And a third rematch could take place in Saturday’s 2 p.m. regional final if Highland knocks off Newcastle while Roby also beats Lipan in its semifinal at 4 p.m. Friday. Roby defeated Highland twice to capture the District 11-A, Division II title, while the Lady Hornets were district runnerups. But the last meeting came right down to the wire, with Roby winning 30-28 on a last-second shot.