Holcomb grabs second title in last three years

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The Holcomb Longhorns won their second boys basketball state championship in three years with a solid 60 – 45 win over the Pratt Greenbacks in the title game. It was Holcomb’s 24th straight win after a season-opening loss to Liberal in December.

Conner Van Cleave led all scorers with 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for his 23rd double-double of the season. For the tournament, the 6-7 senior tossed in 76 points and pulled down 42 rebounds, while dishing out 9 assists.

The Longhorns set the tone early, opening with a 10 – 0 run and holding a 14 – 7 edge at the end of one quarter. After Holcomb pushed the lead to 16 – 7 starting the second quarter, Pratt responded with back-to-back threes cutting the lead to 16 – 13. Then Carter Blackburn scored on an old-fashioned three-point play launching a 7 – 0 run which pushed the lead to 10, 23 – 13. Holcomb would lead 31 – 22 at halftime.

The Longhorns never let the Greenbacks get closer than eight in the 2nd half, stretching the lead to 11, 43 – 32, by the end of the 3rd quarter and to 15 midway through the 4th.

Pratt was led by senior Samson Kohman’s 19 points, but the Greenbacks shots just 32% from the field, while the Longhorns hit 49% of their shots, 47%, 7 of 15, from three-point range. Pratt was 6 of 17 from long distance. The Longhorns were just 9 of 18 from the charity stripe, while the Greenbacks hit all 7 of their free throws. Holcomb dominated the boards again, 38 – 24. Van Cleave was the only Longhorn in double figures, but Carter Blackburn came off the bench to add 9 points.

For Pratt, it was their 6th loss of the season and marked another missed opportunity to win their first state title in boys basketball.

Seniors Conner Van Cleave, Brandon Stegman and Michael Roth closed out their Longhorn careers with the state title. Holcomb swept through the tournament, beating Smoky Valley 65 – 45; outlasting Topeka Hayden 73 -69 in overtime; and throttling Pratt 60 -45. The Longhorns finish 24-1 and now own four state championships, two in the last three years under head coach Chad Novack.


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