Highlands boys basketball storms past Gateway

Saturday, December 7, 2019 | 11:20 PM

For the second time in as many nights, the Highlands boys basketball team defended its home court in dominating fashion.

On Friday, the Golden Rams raced past Armstrong for a 21-point victory.

It was more of the same Saturday as Highlands built a 15-point lead early in the second quarter and went on a 78-56 win over Gateway in the championship game of its tip-off tournament.

“We showed that we have a lot of good chemistry on the court, but we still have a long way to go before we are where we want to be,” said Golden Rams senior guard Korry Myers, who scored 25 points against the Gators, averaged 19 points over the two tournament games and earned tournament MVP honors. “This is a good group of guys, and we’ve been working really hard to put this all together.”

The win was Highlands’ fifth in a row over Gateway extending to the 2016-17 season when the teams were section foes in Class 5A.

“There are a number of things we’re going to work on over the next couple of days before we get ready for our next game (Wednesday against Nazareth Prep),” Highlands coach Tyler Stoczynski said.

“We’re going to look at the film and see where we can get better. We’re far from a finished product. But we saw a number of good things again (Saturday), and the guys played hard and played well as a team. We didn’t have to coach effort tonight. We just had to coach basketball, and that’s when coaching is fun.”

Seniors Luke Cochran and Johnny Crise added all-tournament selections for the Golden Rams.

Cochran, who scored a team-best 18 points against Armstrong, came back Saturday and had 25 to go with six assists. He and Myers made four 3-pointers each.

Crise produced 13 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks. He rattled the rim on a pair of first-half dunks as Highlands went into halftime leading 38-21.

Jimmy Kunst didn’t produce any points for Highlands, but the freshman guard pulled down nine rebounds and dished out four assists.

Gateway stayed close and trailed 17-11 after the opening quarter. But the Golden Rams took control with a 9-0 run to open the second quarter. Myers started the spurt with a long-range shot and added a layup before 6-foot-4 junior Wahkeem Roman converted back-to-back layups.

Gateway sophomore Ryan Greggerson, a 6-7 forward, stopped the run with a putback at the 5:07 mark, but sophomore Carter Leri followed with a 3-pointer less than 30 seconds later, and Highlands led 29-13.

“We always talk about stringing together stops and creating chances by using our defense,” Stoczynski said. “We were able to do that on that run with good plays at both ends.”

RJ Stevenson, who scored six points for the Gators in the opening quarter, finished with 12. The senior guard led Gateway with 19 points in its 64-52 triumph over Imani Christian on Friday and earned all-tournament honors.

Greggerson had 14 points and seven rebounds, and Elgin Oliver added 13 points.

“We just didn’t rebound the ball tonight as well as we needed to,” Gateway coach Alvis Rogers said. “We gave up too many points in the paint and too many second-chance buckets. When you only have 28 rebounds, and the opposing team has 41, that tells a lot right there. We also didn’t shoot the ball well, and it affected our defense.

“But we’re going to get better. We’re going to get back in the gym and work on some things and get ready for Latrobe on Tuesday.”

Gateway was without sophomore starter Will Kromka for both tournament games. Rogers said he continues to recover from a high ankle sprain but should be able to return to practice and game action this week.

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

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