Freeport girls step up on defense, surge past Highlands

Monday, December 16, 2019 | 10:29 PM

Late in the first quarter of Monday’s Section 1-4A girls basketball matchup between Freeport and Highlands, the Yellowjackets and Golden Rams were tied at eight.

Grace Solis then connected on back-to-back 3-pointers that sparked a 23-0 run as Freeport took control en route to a 62-34 victory at Highlands.

“Highlands got some points early on, and then our defense stepped up,” said Freeport coach Fred Soilis, who saw his defense force 24 turnovers.

“I thought we shot the ball really well in the first half but not as well in the second half. But we’re just looking to take it one game at a time and keep getting better. It was a nice team effort, which is what we want.”

The Yellowjackets, who had played just once since their season-opening tournament at Southmoreland on Dec. 6-7, improved to 2-0 in section play and 3-1 overall ahead of their nonsection matchup Tuesday at Hampton.

“Hampton is nonsection, but it will be a good challenge for us,” Soilis said. “We want to stay focused and take care of business there and then come back (Thursday) and be ready to play (section foe) Burrell.”

Highlands fell to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the section. Up next for the Golden Rams is a Thursday section contest against Class 4A No. 1 North Catholic.

Freeport placed four players in double figures, led by 15 from Harley Holloway.

Solis finished the first quarter with nine points on a trio of 3-pointers, and she ended the game with 13.

Regular starters Sidney Shemanski and Madeline Clark returned to the lineup Monday after each missed the past two games because of injury. They came off the bench late in the first quarter.

Shemanski scored eight of her 10 points in the second quarter as Freeport turned a 14-8 lead after the first eight minutes into a 33-13 advantage at the break.

Samantha Clark also scored 10 points, and she tallied seven in the second half as the Yellowjackets pulled away.

After Freeport’s run put it ahead 31-8, Highlands responded by scoring five of the final seven points of the first half.

The Golden Rams then used an 8-1 spurt to open the second half, completing a 13-3 run which closed the deficit to 13 at 36-23.

But Highlands would get no closer as Freeport extended its lead back over 20 points with a 12-0 run sparked by a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer from freshman Malaina Dezort.

Maria Fabregas scored 12 points, all in the second half, and Sarah Sawhook also scored 12 to lead Highlands. Jocelyn Luzier added eight points and eight rebounds for the Golden Rams.

“It nice to see the things we’ve been working hard on finally coming together,” Highlands coach Courtney Udanis said. “We’re seeing good things that we can look forward to in the future. Freeport is a really good team, and being right there competing with them at times was huge. The girls didn’t quit, and they can be encouraged by their effort.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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