POCATELLO — Highland has it all figured out.
At least it looked that way when the Rams went on a 38-9 first-half run en route to a 71-51 home win Tuesday against Rigby in the first round of the 5A District 5-6 tournament.
With a regular season behind them, the Rams were ready to fully utilize defenses that disrupted the Trojans — who committed 19 turnovers — including 13 in the first half.
“There was a 1-2-2 press and then a man where they run and jump,” said Rigby coach Justin Jones, who added Highland “just kind of mixed that all up and caused a lot of havoc for our guards.”
The Rams (14-7) scored 15 of their 40 first-half points on possessions following turnovers by the Trojans, but even without the benefit, Highland could put up points. Rams forward Daxton Carr (21 points) lost his dribble at the end the first quarter, a couple feet beyond the 3-point line, but made a split-second decision to shot fake to draw his defender before nailing a buzzer-beating triple.
Highland took a 16-13 lead into the second quarter after the prayer, but needed more time before peeling off the Trojans (5-17), who tied the score at 16, 18 and 20. Highland senior Kolmon Farnsworth, who had 15 points, took a shot near the free-throw line and banked it in to put his team ahead 22-20 for the last lead change of the game. Rams senior Andrew VanSickle scored eight of his 15 points in the last two minutes of the first half to wrap up the offensive fireworks.
With a 16-point halftime lead, Highland was allowed to preserve its arsenal for the next round of districts at Hillcrest on Thursday. Winner goes to the title game.
The Rams must like their chances better now than earlier this season. Before their current five-game winning streak, they had not won more than three games in a row and came out with more than two consecutive wins once.
“We’ve got a great opportunity,” Highland coach Ty Pearson said. “We’ve got to keep playing hard and keep learning and growing.”
The Trojans, who have not won more than two consecutive games, are still trying to mount a string of success, but from possession to possession as much as game to game.
“We’ve got to stay positive,” said Jones, whose team hosts Bonneville on Thursday in a loser-out game. “We did some great things tonight. We just weren’t constant for that 32 minutes.”
Rigby scorched Highland early, taking a 13-2 lead halfway through the first quarter with nine points coming on 3-pointers. But its offensive flame died out fast.
“They have really good shooters,” Pearson said. “The kids kind of said, ‘We’ve got to get back on transition and find them and get out on them.’ So we got out a little better and offensively hit a few shots and we were able to hold them off.”
HIGHLAND 71, RIGBY 51
Highland 16 24 14 17 – 71
Rigby 13 11 14 13 – 51
Highland – Daxton Carr 21, Dylan Anderson 7, Kolmon Farnsworth 10, Andrew VanSickle 15, Colby Stevens 4, Jadon Whitworth 6, Landon Demuzio 2, Kobe Tracy 4, No. 24 2.
Rigby – Wyatt Taylor 7, Britton Berrett 5, Keegan Thompson 11, Tagg Olaveson 5, Brycen Uffens 11, Tanoa Togiai 2, Tanner Clayton 4, Tane Togiai 6.