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Impressive winning streaks to collide Thursday as Highlands meets Muhlenberg County in Sweet 16

By Don Owen
NKyTribune sports editor

A long winning streak is guaranteed to end Thursday afternoon when Highlands faces Muhlenberg County in the opening round of the state tournament at Rupp Arena.

Highlands is 26-4 overall and owns a 17-game winning streak. Muhlenberg County owns a 19-1 record and has won 16 consecutive games after capturing the 3rd Region championship on Sunday with a 46-31 triumph over Owensboro Catholic.

Highlands junior forward Oliver Harris challenges Conner defender Cole Skiles during the 9th Region championship game. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Highlands claimed the 9th Region championship by posting a 77-67 win over Conner on Friday night. It marked the first regional championship for the Bluebirds since 2001.

Muhlenberg County is led by senior guard Nash Divine, who averages nearly 17 points per game. Senior guard Cole Vincent is scoring 12.1 points per contest and a team-leading 5.3 rebounds per game.

Highlands features a balanced offensive attack that features senior guard Sam Vinson, who averages 22.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Senior forward Luke Muller has drained a team-leading 107 shots from 3-point range and averages 16.5 points per contest.

The teams play contrasting styles as Muhlenberg County averages 58 points per contest, while Highlands is scoring 83.5 points per game. The Bluebirds also excel from long range, having knocked down 322 3-pointers this season. Muhlenberg County has connected on a total of 121 3-pointers and attempted 362.

Muhlenberg County’s only loss this season is a 56-50 setback to Hopkinsville on Jan. 22.

The Highlands/Muhlenberg County winner will meet either Bullitt East (15-8) or McCracken County (22-6) on Friday at 8 p.m. The state semifinals are set for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, with the championship game set later that evening at 8 p.m.

Highlands is seeking its first-ever state championship in basketball.

Don Owen is sports editor of the Northern Kentucky Tribune. Contact him at don@nkytrib.com and follow him on Twitter at @dontribunesport.

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