Dinged-up Highlanders look to break tie for second in KLAA Gold — with broadcast link

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Nick Simon has a few goals for his Howell basketball team this season. Staying healthy didn’t figure to be one of them.

“Usually, we’ve been pretty healthy in my time here,” he said Monday.

Not this year. Simon called up a pair of junior varsity players on Monday to give him 12 to work with in practice for the first time all season.

It didn’t last.

“We practiced from 2-4 on Monday, and we almost made it through,” Simon said. ‘Then in our last drill of the day, at 3:45 p.m., someone gets hurt.”

That player, Matt Dewar, is questionable for tonight. The Highlanders already are without guard Johnny Shields, out with a broken foot.

They’ll be back on the floor, regardless, tonight at Howell High School, when they take on Northville in a game that can be heard on The Livingston Post starting at about 7 p.m.

The first meeting between the teams last month was a mismatch from the beginning. Northville scored 30 points in the first quarter and went on to win 73-48.

“They did a really nice job coming out with some energy, and they hit a lot of shots early,” Simon recalled.

But the Highlanders and Mustangs go into tonight’s game tied for second with Novi in the KLAA Gold. All three have 6-4 league records.

“It’s senior night,” Simon said. “I don’t know if it helps or hurts us. It probably evens things out. Some of the seniors might be a little pumped, some might be overpumped and burn too much energy.”

Simon says his team learned about itself in the Northville game, lessons that have served the Highlanders well in a season full of close finishes.

“We grew a lot from that experience,” he said. “We’ve responded well since then and are able to be more resilient since that Northville game.”

One guy who’s seen a lot of action in practice this season will be on the bench tonight: Collin Ablett, a former Highlanders player who now is an assistant coach.

“He’s had to play quite a bit in practice,” Simon said. “He’s gotten after it, reliving the glory days a bit. He’s helped us out.”