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2 punch lifts Highland basketball’s stock

It’s time to lace up the sneakers and hit the hardwood; high school basketball season is now in session. And one team on everybody’s mind is Highland.

Armed with one of the state’s greatest dual threats in sophomore guards Matt Carlino and Nick Johnson, the Hawks have a lot of talent to make a run at a possible state championship.

Coming off a 24 6 campaign in 2007 08, the Hawks will definitely have a target on their jerseys, especially with the guard play of Matt Carlino and Johnson. As a freshman, Matt averaged 16.2 points per game to go along with 5.6 assists and 6.8 rebounds. The 6 foot 3 point guard has already verbally committed to Indiana. Johnson, known as an athletic slacheap jerseys

“They are both extremely talented,” Mark Carlino said. “They are one year smarter and one more year experienced, so I’m expecting great things out of both of them.”

Highland lost three players from last year’s squad, two of which started and made a big impact on last season’s success. But Mark Carlino is satisfied knowing he has some players that can definitely step up and fill that void.

“The seniors will be missed, but we have the talent needed to move forward,” Mark Carlino said. “All the experience gained last year should pay off this season.”

Highland isn’t working with the full squad though, as the Hawks still have one, possibly two players still playing football.

But the bulk of the season’s success will fall on the shoulders of Matt Carlino and Johnson, a lot for most sophomores but not for these.

“They are more mature this year,” Mark Carlino said. “I’m just glad to have both of them on my side.

“I support his (Matt’s) decision and now we have to temper that excitement,” Mark Carlino said of his son’s commitment. “He’s only a sophomore and he has a lot of high school basketball still ahead.”

The Hawks open their season in the Salpointe Tip Off Classic against Mesa Red Mountain in Tucson, one of the few teams that had Highland’s number last season as they beat the Hawks both times they played. The regular season begins Dec. 2 when they visit Chandler Basha.