Holcomb outmuscles Scott City to earn state berth

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Scott City, Kan. (westernkansasnews.com)–Two of the top programs in southwest Kansas met up on Saturday for the opportunity to play in Emporia on Wednesday in the Class 4A, Division II State Tournament. Scott City was playing in their ninth consecutive sub-state championship game, while Holcomb was in their seventh. In the end, the Longhorns proved to be too much inside, as they knocked off Scott Citiy 65-51 at Scott Community High School Saturday night in front of a standing room only crowd. 

The first eight minutes provided a back and forth game, as there were three ties and six lead changes. Scott City took a 13-9 lead with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter, only to see Holcomb respond with a 7-1 run to close out the period to take a 16-14 lead after one period. The Longhorns would slowly build up their lead in the second quarter with mini runs, before leading 34-27 at the break. Scott City (13-9) was able to score the opening points of the third quarter to pull to within 34-30, and that would be the closest they would get the rest of the night. A 4:46 drought would plague the Beavers, as Holcomb scored only five pounts, and led 39-30 with 5:10 left in the quarter. Jess Drohman banked in a three pointer to pull Scott City to within 42-37 after three quarters. The Beavers had a couple of opportunities to get it to a one possession game early in the fourth quarter, but were unable too. It would turn into the close out by senior Conner VanCleave. He capped his field goal shooting with a big three pointer that gave the Longhorns a 53-40 lead with a little over five minutes left. However, Scott City would not go down without a fight. Out of their five field goals in the fourth quarter, four were three-pointers. The closest they got to Holcomb (21-1) was 59-51 with 1:18 remaining. The Longhorns salted the game away with six free throws, en route to their 21st consecutive win. 

Conner VanCleave finished with 30 points, while Trey Gilbert had 13 and Michael Roth for Holcomb. The Longhorns were 24-39 at the free throw line for the game, and won the rebounding battle 27-20. Scott City was led by Bo Hess with 13 points, while Jordan Horn had 12 and Jess Drohman added 10. The Beavers were just 5-12 from the free throw line.

With the win, Holcomb has now won five straight in the series, and it was their first sub-state win over Scott City since February 28, 2008, when they won 64-50 in the semi-finals in Class 3A at Cimarron. The Longhorn win also clinched their 16 state tournament appearance in program history. Scott City’s school record run of six consecutive state tournament appearances was snapped, and five seniors were a part of the team that won the 2015 Class 3A State Championship. 

Holcomb will be either a number one or two seed, and will play on Wednesday in Emporia. They will be in a coin flip with Wichita Collegiate. Projections inlcude Rock Creek as the third seed (18-4), Burlington and Pratt as the fourth or fifth seed (17-5), Topeka-Hayden as the sixth seed, (16-6), Smoky Valley as the seventh seed (15-7) and Frontenac as the eighth seed (14-8).

Coach Brian Gentry Postgame