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Don Owen: Distance is just a word, not an obstacle, for Highlands’ amazing perimeter shooters

They bury 3-pointers with the greatest of ease. Distance isn’t a problem. Think you can leave them open for that 28-footer straightaway? Swish.

Go ahead, take that 34-footer. You wouldn’t dare shoot from out there in a game, right? Swish.

Whoops. Not a good idea to leave these guys open.

Sam Vinson reacts after throwing down a dunk against Muhlenberg County in Rupp Arena. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Welcome to the uncanny, unconscious, no-conscience world of Highlands basketball. The Bluebirds are a collection of long-range shooters blessed with a star who might be the best player in Kentucky. That player is Sam Vinson, who poured in 31 points Thursday as Highlands easily dispatched Muhlenberg County by an 88-60 score at Rupp Arena.

Vinson buried six 3-pointers in seven attempts against Muhlenberg County. The 6-foot-5 senior drained five of those treys in the first half en route to 24 points as Highlands built a 46-30 advantage.

“I had an inkling, and you never expect it out of a player, but I thought Sam was going to have a pretty good game today,” Highlands head coach Kevin Listerman said of Vinson’s performance. “He absolutely did in the first half.”

Said Vinson: “I don’t think I’ve ever been that hot in a half before. To do that here at Rupp Arena in front of this crowd, it felt amazing.”

By the end of the third quarter the Bluebirds owned a 71-42 lead. This against a Muhlenberg County team that was the third-best defensive team in the state. Well, that’s what the KHSAA statistics revealed before the game.


Luke Muller, whose range is limited to around 40 feet or so, drained a trio of 3-pointers on his way to 21 points. During the 9th Region Tournament last week at Holmes, Muller seemed to never miss from 30 feet in warmups. The Highlands senior also made himself at home in spacious Rupp Arena against Muhlenberg County on Thursday.

Luke Muller drained a trio of 3-pointers on his way to 21 points against Muhlenberg County. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

“We can really stretch the floor against anyone,” Muller said. “We might not be the biggest [team], but with shooters everywhere we got confidence in everybody.”

And why wouldn’t they? The Bluebirds have now connected on 334 triples this season after knocking down 12 treys against Muhlenberg County.

William Herald is another long-range specialist, and he’s buried 94 treys in 173 attempts. That’s 54.3 percent from 3-point range. And Herald is just a sophomore.

Junior guard Zach Barth is 46-for-94 from beyond the arc, giving Highlands four effective 3-point shooters.

Can you say “swish” four times really fast — like in the quick-tempo Highlands offense?

Highlands has won 23 state championships in football. On the basketball court, the Bluebirds are still seeking their first state title.

That could all change sometime Saturday night.

But first, Highlands must first get past McCracken County on Friday night. McCracken County coasted past Bullitt East on Thursday and is 23-6 this season.

Bullitt East finished 6-for-19 from 3-point range against McCracken County. Many of those misses were uncontested. Think that will happen if the long-range specialists from Highlands are allowed open looks?

Listen closely.


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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