Squadron basketball triumphs in area opener

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

The Highland Home School (HHS) boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball teams triumphed in their first area game of the season against the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots (Pike Lib), marking a stellar start to their area campaign. The Squadron boys soared to victory during the Jan. 4 matchup with a final score of 69-43, while the girls showcased their dominance with a resounding 48-8 win.

The spotlight of the night belonged to HHS senior Brice Mckenzie, who not only contributed 34 points to the scoreboard but also achieved a significant milestone by reaching 1,000 career points during the game. Head coach Justin Cope expressed his pride in Mckenzie’s dedication, emphasizing his commitment to being a team player.

“I am very proud of him,” Cope said. “The thing I loved the most was that when he realized he had reached 1,000 career points, he immediately went over and thanked his teammates. Brice has always been about the team first and winning second.”

According to Cope, the game against Pike Lib served as an opportunity for less experienced players to step up and shine due to several players not being present for various reasons. 

C.J. May contributed ten points, and J.J. Faulk added 12 to the Highland Home boys’ victory, while Pike Lib’s Hudson Hollingshead and Jackson Mitchell scored nine and seven points, respectively.

In the girls’ game, standout performances from JaNya Foster with 26 points and Jameria Green with 15, secured a dominant win for the Highland Home girls. Pike Lib’s Shelly Stephens managed to score four points amidst the Squadron’s formidable defense.

This game marked a reunion of sorts for Pike Lib’s head basketball coach, Jonny Mitchell, who spent seven seasons as the head boys’ basketball coach at Highland Home where he put 160 total wins under his belt, making him the winningest boy’s coach in the history of the school.  Mitchell, now in his 30th year as a basketball coach, expressed his joy at witnessing Mckenzie’s milestone.

“I have been around Brice Mckenzie since he was in the 5th grade,” Mitchell said. “He is a great basketball player and an even better young man. Although I wish he would have scored 34 points on another team, I was proud to be there when he went over 1000. I have a great deal of love and respect for Highland Homes players and coaches. I spent 10 wonderful years as a coach there and am very proud of their successes.”

Coach Cope shared a similar sentiment, describing the matchup as an enriching experience. 

“Coach Jonny Mitchell is one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around,” Cope said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for him not only as a coach but as a great man.”

With this victory, the HHS boys now hold a 1-0 record in the area, setting a positive tone for the remainder of the season. The Squadron’s next challenge awaits them as they host the Luverne Tigers in their upcoming game Jan. 12.