With spring around the corner, baseball season is getting into full swing. Accordingly, Highland Park will host its annual Scotland Yard Classic this weekend.
The Scots will play five games over three days as part of the round-robin event, facing Colleyville Heritage (1:30 p.m. today), Fort Smith (Ark.) Southside (6:30 p.m. today), Sachse (11 a.m. Friday), and Richland (4 p.m. Friday). HP also will meet Keller at 11 a.m. Saturday at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Tournament games also will be held at Rockwall, Coppell, Plano East, and Trinity Christian Academy in Addison. Other participating teams include Grapevine, Belton, Rowlett, and The Woodlands.
For the Scots, the tournament will be the final tuneup prior to the start of District 10-4A play on Tuesday at Forney.
A full tournament schedule follows after the jump.
SCOTLAND YARD CLASSIC
(at Highland Park)
Highland Park vs. Colleyville Heritage, 1:30 p.m.
Fort Smith Southside vs. Colleyville Heritage, 4 p.m.
Highland Park vs. Fort Smith Southside, 6:30 p.m.
Rockwall vs. Plano East, 11 a.m.
Sachse vs. Plano East, 1:30 p.m.
Rockwall vs. Sachse, 4 p.m.
Grapevine vs. Keller, 6:30 p.m.
Coppell vs. Rowlett, 11 a.m.
Rowlett vs. Richland, 1:30 p.m.
Coppell vs. The Woodlands, 4 p.m.
Belton vs. The Woodlands, 6:30 p.m.
TCA-Addison vs. Keller, 11 a.m.
TCA-Addison vs. Grapevine, 1:30 p.m.
(at Highland Park)
Highland Park vs. Sachse, 11 a.m.
Colleyville Heritage vs. The Woodlands, 1:30 p.m.
Highland Park vs. Richland, 4 p.m.
The Woodlands vs. Sachse, 6:30 p.m.
(at Plano East)
Plano East vs. Richland, 11 a.m.
Grapevine vs. Rowlett, 1:30 p.m.
Plano East vs. Rowlett, 4 p.m.
Fort Smith Southside vs. Belton, 6:30 p.m.
Fort Smith Southside vs. Keller, 1:30 p.m.
Coppell vs. Keller, 4 p.m.
Coppell vs. Rockwall, 6:30 p.m.
TCA-Addison vs. Rockwall, 11 a.m.
TCA-Addison vs. Belton, 1:30 p.m.
(at Highland Park)
Fort Smith Southside vs. The Woodlands, 10 a.m.
The Woodlands vs. Grapevine, 12:30 p.m.
Richland vs. Sachse, 3 p.m.
Richland vs. Rockwall, 5:30 p.m.
(at Plano East)
Rowlett vs. TCA-Addison, 10 a.m.
Colleyville Heritage vs. Rowlett, 12:30 p.m.
Plano East vs. Colleyville Heritage, 3 p.m.
Belton vs. Rockwall, 10 a.m.
Coppell vs. Belton, 12:30 p.m.
Coppell vs. Grapevine, 3 p.m.
(at Globe Life Park, Arlington)
Highland Park vs. Keller, 11 a.m.
It wasn’t enough for the Highland Park girls soccer team to continue its on-field dominance on Tuesday night. The Lady Scots scored goals off the field as well.
The team presented a check to the HP Special Olympics program for $11,275 as part of its “Going for the Same Goal” fundraising campaign. The money will go toward soccer uniforms, equipment, and a banquet for the Special Olympians, who took the field at halftime of HP’s 2-0 win over The Colony at Highlander Stadium.
The victory, by the way, clinched another District 20-4A title for the Lady Scots (14-4-1, 6-0), who have won their six district games by a combined margin of 27-2.
As his high school basketball career ended last February, Will Miller had never heard of Mount St. Mary’s University. And the anonymity was mutual.
A year later, the former Highland Park standout is a starting guard for an NCAA Division I program, sharing a court with national powerhouses from Michigan State, Villanova, and BYU.
Miller emerged from recruiting obscurity though a connection in the coaching world that eventually led to him getting a scholarship offer from the small liberal-arts school in Emmitsburg, Md., a rural town of modest size near the Pennsylvania border.
“They contacted me really late,” Miller said. “I always wanted to play Division I ball if I could, so this opportunity was really huge.”
The opportunity came through a chance phone call between Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian and Eric Cunningham, a former Highland Park assistant coach. The two coaches became acquainted when Christian was an assistant coach at William & Mary and was responsible for recruiting in Texas.
Christian was trying to recruit some other players in Dallas when Cunningham suggested he look at Miller, a 6-foot-6 sharpshooter who played just one season at the varsity level for the Scots.
The second-year coach saw potential for Miller — who averaged about 11 points per game at HP during the 2012-13 season — to be an ideal fit for his up-tempo offensive scheme that emphasizes outside shooting.
“Obviously because we shoot a ton of threes at the Mount, his ability fits us perfectly,” Christian said. “But his coachability has allowed him to make an impact so immediately.”
Through Feb. 13, Miller averaged 5.9 points per game and was second on the team in three-point shooting despite only being on the floor for 17.3 minutes per game. Of his 114 field-goal attempts this season, all but nine have come from beyond the three-point arc.
“Coach has told me that my role is a three-point shooter,” Miller said. “Having this role for my freshman year has been good. In the next three years, Coach may increase my role to other things.”
Miller was inserted into the starting lineup in late January, which coincided with a three-game winning streak for the Mountaineers in Northeast Conference play.
“He has a hunger and passion for the game to improve each day,” Christian said. “He came to us with only one year of true varsity basketball experience, but through the recruiting process I knew from day one that he was a special person with a work ethic that any coach would love to have.”
Miller said the transition to college basketball has been challenging, and not just because the players are stronger and the pace is faster than high school.
“I think it’s going well. It was probably the hardest transition I’ve had to deal with in my life,” Miller said. “Basketball takes almost double the time that school does. It’s been a big adjustment to that.”
He made quite an impact during a nationally televised Nov. 29 game at Michigan State, when Miller knocked down five 3-pointers in the first half and was featured in highlights later that night on ESPN.
His 15 points against the nationally-ranked Spartans marked a season best that he tied on Jan. 3 against Norfolk State.
“I just lit up. I watched it probably five times. I had to call somebody and tell them,” Miller said of the ESPN snippet. “My parents had the same reaction I had.”
At Highland Park, Miller was on the freshman “B” team four years ago but improved steadily, earning all-district honors as a senior.
“The strides that he made in his four years here were amazing,” said HP head coach David Piehler. “He’s a great shooter. That’s his strength and he perfected that. He put the time and effort into it.”
Christian said Miller should continue to improve thanks to a combination of solid work ethic and mental toughness.
“We’re looking for versatility on our roster. I think his role is definitely going to be able to expand here as he continues to improve,” Christian said. “He said he would do anything I asked him to do. Finding those who have the right personality and mental makeup is hard. He has enough talent, but his makeup is what is going to allow him to be a good player for a long time.”
Last season, the Mountaineers gained momentum by finishing 18-14 and reaching the finals of the Northeast Conference tournament. This year’s tournament begins Tuesday, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m really excited about our chances this year,” Miller said. “I think we have a good chance to build this program to something that everyone will know about.”
Festivities on and off the field will surround the District 10-4A softball opener on Tuesday when Highland Park hosts Terrell.
The program will celebrate its 20th anniversary with appearances by former players, a photo button booth, a drawing to win Texas Rangers tickets, and hamburgers and hot dogs grilled by the team dads.
Lisa Prather, who was the pitcher during HP’s first varsity season in 1994, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and the HP Lads and Lassies will sing the national anthem.
Plus, of course, it will be the first district game played under the lights at the school’s softball field. For more information on the alumni festivities, call Barbara Orr at 214-683-5531 or Donna Hodges at 713-416-4352.
The Highland Park tennis team returns to the court today at the McKinney North Invitational, its first tournament of the spring season.
The Scots will look to continue the dominance they showed in the fall, when HP won its sixth consecutive state title during the team season, its last at the Class 4A level before moving to the new 6A next year.
During the spring campaign, HP will play five times prior to hosting the District 10-4A tournament on April 4-5. The only other home appearance for the Scots will be Tuesday during a boys dual match with St. Mark’s.
By the way, the state tournament is slated for April 28-29 in Austin. The Scots won a mixed doubles championship last spring.
Even-numbered years have been kind to the Highland Park varsity lacrosse team, which has won Texas High School Lacrosse League state titles in 2004, 2008, 2010, and 2012.
Obviously the Scots would like that trend to continue this spring, with HP set to open the 2014 regular season with a game Friday at Allen.
The home opener for the Scots is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday against Houston St. John’s, and the schedule also features the usual matchups against local rivals ESD, St. Mark’s, and Jesuit prior to the postseason play in late April. The state tournament is slated for May 3-4 in Friendswood.
One highlight on the schedule is the King of Spring tournament on March 8-10 in Durham, N.C. The Scots will face McCallie (Tenn.), Calvert Hall (Md.), and East Chapel Hill (N.C.) in the three-day event.
The team captains will be seniors Remy Kell, Robert Mencke, and Grayson Miller. Mencke is a returning All-American midfielder who has committed to Harvard, while Kell was an all-district selection on defense. Other top returnees for HP include Christopher Marlow, Case Carpenter, and William Stowe.
The Scots are ranked No. 48 in the Boys Preseason Fab 50 by Studentsportslacrosse.com and are No. 6 in the website’s Southeast Region rankings.
Last season, HP finished 14-3 and fell to eventual champion St. Mark’s in the state semifinals.
Kate Boyer won two gold medals at the Class 4A state swimming meet on Saturday in Austin, while her team saw its run of dominance come to an end.
Boyer, a junior, took first place in both the 50-yard freestyle (23.44 seconds) and 100-yard freestyle, in which she set a new 4A state record with a time of 50.85 seconds.
The Blue Wave placed fifth as a team in the girls standings, well behind champion San Antonio Alamo Heights. HP had won the 4A state title in 11 of the past 12 years, and will transition to the new Class 6A next season.
Other state finalists for HP included Lauren Murski (fifth place in 500 free and seventh in 200 free) and Morgan King (eighth in 200 individual medley and eighth in 100 breaststroke).
On the boys side, the Blue Wave finished ninth as a team. The individual finalists were Nick Moore (third in 100 butterfly and fourth in 100 backstroke) and Jasper Van Cauwelaert (fifth in 200 IM).
The Blue Wave also finished fifth in the girls 400 freestyle relay, and seventh in the boys 200 medley relay, boys 400 freestyle relay, and girls 200 freestyle relay.
Highland Park will try to compensate with quality what it lacks in quantity this weekend at the Class 4A state swimming meet.
The Blue Wave will send 10 swimmers — five boys and five girls — to the meet, which means the chances for team titles are slim. However, the perennial powerhouse has several swimmers with a realistic opportunity to bring home some individual hardware.
The HP boys contingent will include Nick Moore (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke), Mason Kelly (200 freestyle), Jasper Van Cauwelaert (200 individual medley), and Tommy King (500 freestyle).
On the girls side, the Blue Wave will feature Lauren Murski (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle), Kate Boyer (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle), and Morgan King (200 IM, 100 breaststroke).
HP also qualified for state with four relays — boys 200 medley, boys 400 freestyle, girls 200 freestyle, and girls 400 freestyle.
Preliminaries for each event will be on Friday, with finals on Saturday at the Jamail Swim Center in Austin.
The biggest change at Scotland Yard this season might be in the dugout, instead of on the field.
Travis Yoder has taken over as head baseball coach at Highland Park with the mindset that while he doesn’t want to mess with success, he does want to add some of his own wrinkles to the program.
Yoder takes over from Fred Oliver, who retired after last season. Oliver won 101 games in four seasons with the Scots, capping a 28-year career as a head coach at the high school level.
His successor has head coaching experience as well, including a five-year stint at Adamson before becoming an assistant coach under Oliver in 2006. He said he wants to bring an aggressive mindset to HP’s approach, both in terms of hitting and base running.
“We’re going to do different things to put pressure on defenses,” Yoder said. “I’m trying to bring the idea of attacking everywhere we can.”
The Scots finished 19-15 last season and shared the District 10-4A title with Forney. However, HP lost to Prosper in a three-game series in the bi-district round of the playoffs, which still lingers with some of the returning players and coaches.
“We’ve moved on and learned from our mistakes,” said senior Matthew Lillard. “We want to make it deep into the playoffs this year.”
HP opens the regular season today against Class 5A powerhouse Southlake Carroll in the Rock Hardball Classic in Leander. Also in the three-day event, HP will face Leander, Belton, Round Rock McNeil, and Brenham.
The Scots will co-host the Scotland Yard Classic on March 6-7 as part of its typically difficult nondistrict schedule. The Scots also will play Keller on March 8 at Globe Life Park in Arlington before opening district play on March 11 at Forney.
The Scots lost several seniors from last year’s team to graduation, but still have five starters back. Yoder expects major contributions from shortstop Jon Skidmore, third baseman Cooper Chaltas, and outfielder Brett Matthews near the top of the lineup. On the mound, returnee Ryan Buss is joined by Layne Looney, Kyle Robertson, and Brandt Gros.
“I think the kids are enjoying being out here and they’re coming together. They’re buying into the team concept,” Yoder said. “We’re trying to continue the winning tradition that’s already in place.”
Alexandra Thornton, a seventh-grader at Highland Park Middle School, placed eighth in the 48-kilogram weight class at the National Junior Championships weightlifting meet earlier this month in Aurora, Colo.
Alexandra, 12, who is the top weightlifter in the country in her age group, broke her own records at the meet of 45 kg in the snatch and 55 kg in the clean and jerk, for a personal-best total of 100 kg.
In other words, she’s really strong. Check out this video for further proof.
March 6, 2014
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