HIGHLAND — Xavier Ughutevbe tied a career high with 23 points while the Labette Cardinals notched a critical KJCCC victory over the Highland Scotties by a score of 82-59 on Wednesday.
Labette improved its record to 15-10 overall and 3-4 in conference play, while Highland dropped to 16-9 and 3-4 respectively.
“It’s always important to go on the road and get a win,” Stanford said. “They got one on us at home, so we got one back. This is the longest bus trip of the year and we still played well.”
Ughutevbe’s 23 points, which tied his career-best achieved against Rhema Bible College earlier this year, came on 5-of-10 shooting including 3-of-5 on 3-pointers. The Alaskan also hit 10-of-12 free throws.
“We had a conversation as a staff about how our roster has changed and positions have changed,” Stanford said. “We wanted to exploit mismatches. Xavier has played point guard before, and we wanted him in that point forward role. He’s more comfortable in that role and he did a great job with that. He’s such a smart kid and handled all of Highland’s adjustments.”
Mike Flenorey also reached double figures for the Cardinals with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting. 15 of his 17 points came on a 5-of-7 performance from behind the arc while he also had two rebounds and an assist.
“Guys were ready to make the plays tonight,” Stanford said. “We all were in the flow of the offense. Everybody was ready to knock down shots when it was their opportunity to shoot.”
Highland’s Rashon Johnson led the Scotties with 15 points. The Cardinals shot a red-hot 51% from the field while the Scotties shot 42.6%. Labette also forced Highland into 14 turnovers while only committing six.
“Guys understood what they were supposed to be doing,” Stanford said. “We’re making plays. That was a big part of tonight. They understood what the defense was presenting and how to counter. We took care of the basketball and shared the basketball.”
The win creates a logjam in the middle of the conference standings with three games left in the season. Both Highland and Labette are tied for fourth in the KJCCC. The top two seeds get a bye in the first round of the Region VI Tournament, while the third and fourth seeds get to host the first round.
“We’ll celebrate this win,” Stanford said. “But we’ll turn around Thursday and start preparation for Saturday. We’ve got to focus on having great days and stacking them up.”
Labette returns home for Sophomore Night on Saturday to face Johnson County as the Cardinals look to continue their climb up the conference ladder.
“The key point of emphasis against them is not to foul,” Stanford said. “They beat us by seven last time and shot 45 free throws. We’ve got to keep people in front of us and then rebounding. It’s going to be really important that we clean that up.”
Saturday also serves as PRC Basketball Night. Kids who played youth basketball through the PRC and wear their 2020 basketball team shirt get into Saturday’s games free with a paid adult.
Labette 82, Highland 59
Labette: 45 37 — 82
Highland: 31 28 — 59
Labette: Makiyah Jones 6, Mike Flenorey 17, Tyler Garrett 7, Jaland Whitehead 9, Xavier Ughutevbe 23, Miguel Shaw 7, Jordan Base 7, Bryson Dennis 4, Nduka Ogwu 2
Highland: Dylan Vincent 7, Rashon Johnson 15, Marquise Milton 12, Agues Deng 5, Trey Twa 1, Jaron Flowers 5, Kendon Knight 2, Devonte Gilbert 2, Zyon Smith 10