LEWISTOWN, Mo. -- The Highland girls basketball tournament championship game featured two scrappy teams that left it all out on the floor on Saturday.
The first half saw Highland take command, but Canton would take control after halftime and come away with a 52-48 win.
It was the first time the Lady Tigers have won the Highland Tournament since 2009.
"It feels really good," said Canton head coach Danielle Baker. "Anytime you win a championship, you are obviously excited and feel proud about your girls. Just to be back into this caliber of a game with this atmosphere is really nice."
Early on, Canton's prospects for a tournament championship looked bleak as Highland controlled the tempo of the game.
The Lady Cougars crashed the boards early and often, taking a 10-3 lead midway through the first quarter before Baker called a timeout.
"I just told them they had to do better," Baker said. "If they wanted to win this game, they were going to have to get in better position. Not let them get second, third or fourth shots or we were not going to win that game."
Canton would improve upon rebounding as the game went on, but Highland would continue to dominate the boards.
The Lady Cougars would finish with 39 rebounds, compared to 16 by the Lady Tigers.
"Offensive rebounding-wise, we got a lot of second chance opportunities in the first half," said Highland head coach Ashton Jaco. "We really held them at bay on the offensive glass most of the game. We crashed the boards pretty well."
Canton sophomore Macy Glasgow had a strong first quarter, scoring six of the eight points for the Lady Tigers.
Highland junior Rachael Bringer drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave the Lady Cougars an 13-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Canton also had the misfortune of senior Nariah Clay getting into early foul trouble, keeping her off the floor for most of the second quarter and returning during the second half.
The Lady Cougars maintained their lead throughout the second quarter, and entered halftime with a 25-21 lead. Highland was aided by 10 points from senior Ansley Bringer and seven points by junior Ali Reed.
"We had a big talk at halftime," Glasgow said. "We were just ready to come back out there and make another statement."
One big adjustment Canton made in the second half was turning up the intensity on defense, getting deflections and putting on the press.
"One of the advantages we had going in is that we are long and athletic," Baker said. "I knew just being in whatever defense we were going to run, if we got our hands in those passing lanes and we got out in transition, I thought we would have a pretty good chance."
Canton junior Macie Fisher nailed a 3-pointer early in the third quarter that gave the Lady Tigers a 29-27 lead, its first of the game.
Highland tied the game back up with a bucket from Ansley Bringer, but Glasgow would answer with a bucket to re-take the lead.
"They are a tough opponent," Glasgow said. "They are very smart rebounders, so we had to get in there and find a way."
Ansley Bringer then hit a 3-pointer that gave Highland a 34-32 lead.
It wouldn't last long because Fisher would answer with a 3-pointer that gave Canton a 35-34 lead. Highland would not lead or tie for the remainder of the game.
"(Our) defense turned into offense and that's what we needed to happen," Glasgow said.
At the end of the third quarter, Canton took a 37-34 lead.
Canton extended its lead to as much as nine points at one point during the fourth quarter, but Highland made one last-ditch push late in the game.
It would end up being too much for Highland to overcome.
"I think it was a combination," Jaco said. "I think we did a really good job in the first half of breaking their press. Then in the second half, we got a little undisciplined and got sped up. We turned it over and it led to easy buckets by them."
Ansley Bringer led Highland in scoring with 22 points and with 17 rebounds.
"The kid flies around everywhere," Jaco said. "She does so much for us and plays so hard. Just the stuff she does for us besides scoring, and she does that a lot and does it well. She played her heart out and you can never question her toughness or her heart."
Reed finished with seven points and six boards, while Highland freshman Addy Abell put up seven points and seven boards.
Canton had three players reach double-digit scoring, with Glasgow scoring a team-high 13 points. Fisher contributed 12 points and junior Emma Hultz scored 10 points.
Canton also got eight points and six boards off the bench from junior Kendall Weathers.
These two teams will meet again on Tuesday, with Canton (7-6) hosting Highland (10-4) at 6 p.m.
"It's fun playing them," Baker said. "It's a close game, so they don't have to travel very far. They are a very good team, so it will be another really good game with a really good atmosphere. We look forward to it. I know they'll make adjustments and we'll have to make adjustments."
Highland will look to learn from its loss to Canton in the Highland Tournament championship game as the Lady Cougars prepare for Tuesday.
"They are not an easy team to prepare for," Jaco said. "We get to play them again at their place and they are really tough. So we got to come ready to play. We will come in Monday to practice and try to fix our mistakes and be ready for Tuesday."
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