CEDAR LAKE — When in doubt, give it to the post players.
That’s been Highland’s calling card all year.
So when the Trojans found themselves knotted up at 35 with the Hanover Central Wildcats at halftime, Highland head coach Jordan Heckard reminded his players where the ball needed to go: inside to 6-foot-7 big man Tyler Scheidt.
And the junior delivered.
Scheidt scored a team-high 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting while anchoring the Trojans in the painted area to lead Highland in a 75-71 road victory over Hanover Central.
Heckard said his team’s commitment to running an offense through Scheidt and the rest of the post players made the difference in beginning the second half on a 10-0 run and ultimately securing the win.
“Tyler’s very skilled, just so skilled,” Heckard said. “He’s got great footwork, and you see that. Part of it is he always needs confidence to know that he can take over a game. In the third quarter when he was touching the ball, good things happened.”
Scheidt’s impact was two-fold: When he wasn’t bullying an undersized Hanover Central near the rim for an easy layup, he was patiently waiting with the ball to find cutters to the lane or open guards on the perimeter for clean looks from beyond the arc.
He nearly single handedly brought back the inside-out game Heckard wants his team to use.
“It opened everything up because once we got going on the inside, we’re able to kick things out or do whatever we want with it with our guards,” Scheidt said. “It’s part of our identity.”
Getting the ball into the paint brought a calming effect to the Highland bench, Scheidt said. It helped the Trojans regain control of the tempo and let the game play out the way they wanted it to.
At one point in the second half, Highland opened up a lead as high as 16 points. Five Trojans finished with double figures, and as a team they finished with about 23 assists on the night.
“Our guys found each other,” Heckard said. “But our big calling card all year has been attack inside. It’ll open up lanes for us outside. We don’t go away from it.”
Hanover Central didn’t go down easy, clawing back from being outscored 26-11 in the third quarter to being within five points with just under 30 seconds to go and the ball in its own hands.
Four different Wildcats finished in double-figure scoring behind a leading effort from sophomore guard Dominic Lucido, who finished with a game-high 20 points. The points haven’t been much of an issue for Hanover Central — a team that averages nearly 75 a game — but once again it was an inability to get stops that ultimately cost the ‘Cats a win.
“We scored, but we can’t defend like that and expect to win,” Hanover Central head coach Bryon Clouse said. “We let their post guys get whatever they wanted down low, and we just can’t do that.”
While Clouse and the Wildcats (13-4, 4-4)are left still trying to find a defensive identity, Highland (11-8, 2-3) proved once again that it’ll be the Trojan post players dictating the team’s success as the close of the season draws near.
“That was honestly one of the most fun games we’ve been a part of,” Scheidt said. “That was a good team win.”