It’s safe to say that Highland Park has been playing their best basketball of the season in the last week.
After posting a 25-point blowout win over Junction City, the Scots knocked off No. 1-ranked Shawnee Heights 78-59 on Tuesday avenging a two-point loss last month.
“Our intensity level was better, we played more as a team, and we were knocking down shots,” said junior point guard Malik Keith, who scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, grabbed five rebounds, dished out six assists, and had four steals.
Highland Park (9-8) has won back-to-back games by a combined 44 points after falling 73-67 in overtime to Topeka West on Feb. 13.
“We just felt like we weren’t going to lose no more,” Keith said. “When we lost to (Topeka West) it was a big shocker because we’re not supposed to lose to Topeka West and that was the first time in a long time. We had to come together and pick this up.”
Keith has been very productive lately and is currently the team’s leading scorer at 11.4 points and a city-best 4.3 assists per game.
He’s turned in some very impressive performances this month with 16 points against Hayden (Feb. 10), 18 points and 10 assists against Topeka West (Feb. 13), and 12 points and 11 assists against Junction City (Feb. 13) in addition to his big game against Shawnee Heights.
“I’ve just been driving and kicking and hoping that our players outside can make the shot,” Keith said. “I think I’ve been playing great.”
Keith hasn’t been the only Scot making positive contributions to the team. Senior swingman Daniel Kingcannon poured in a season-high 21 points against Shawnee Heights.
“He did a little bit of everything,” Keith said. “Daniel is a big part of this team so whenever he gets going it’s always good. Whenever he’s on, we have a higher percentage of winning the game and playing better.”
Although the Scots put together an impressive win, Keith says they’re looking to put the game behind them with three regular season games left on the schedule.
“It helps us a lot moving forward, but it’s not like we won the state championship game,” Keith said. “It was like a regular game. Yeah we won, but what we’re looking for is to win the state. That game is over with and we just have to get back and focus on the next game.”
Highland Park hosts Seaman (8-9) on Friday in what could be a preview of an opening game of the sub-state playoffs. Highland Park is currently the 4-seed and Seaman is fifth.
The Scots are looking for their first three-game winning streak of the season.
“I just think we need to stop Joe Miller,” Keith said. “If we do that, then we’ll be in pretty good shape.”