The Holcomb boys trounced Goodland 57-26, while the Holcomb girls couldn’t hang on to a fourth quarter lead and fell to the Cowgirls 53-42.
In the boys’ game, Goodland’s tactic early was to slow things down and try to lull the defense to sleep for easy lay-ups. It worked on the first possession of the game, which lasted 1:45 when Braxton Redlin slipped to the basket for a 2-0 lead. Twenty seconds later Christian Merz hit a trey for Holcomb and the Longhorns never looked back, eventually pushing the lead to 18-9 after one quarter of play. Holcomb used a ball-hawking defense, 60% shooting from the field in the first half, and a dominating inside presence (22 points in the paint) to foil Goodland’s game plan. The Longhorns led the Cowboys 37-14 at halftime.
Holcomb stretched its lead to 30 in the third quarter, as Coach Chad Novack began to rotate 10 players in and out of the lineup and it was 51-21 heading into the fourth quarter. With a running clock and both coaches eventually clearing their benches, the two teams combined for just 11 fourth quarter points, as Holcomb put away the 57-26 win.
Conner Van Cleave was the only player to reach double figures, finishing with 17 points and 6 rebounds, the first time this season that he has not had a double-double. Brandon Stegman added 8 points and Trey Gilbert chipped in 8 off the bench. Jaime Hernandez and Kobe Dickson each snared 5 rebounds, as Holcomb won the battle of the boards 24-14. Braden Showalter and Brandon Stegman each dished out 6 assists.
Holcomb improves to 9-0, 4-0 in the GWAC, while Goodland falls to 4-6 and 0-4.
In girls’ action, the Lady Longhorns used 47% shooting from the field and a frustrating zone defense to grab a first half lead, 25-21. Twice Holcomb trailed by 7 in the opening half, but scored the last 11 points of the second quarter to grab the 4-point lead. A three-pointer from Zoe Engler triggered a 1st quarter rally that brought Holcomb within 3 points after one quarter. Engler would lead the Longhorns in scoring for the night with 15 points. In the 2nd quarter, Kim Sinoy’s old fashioned 3-point play in the middle of an 11-0 run, tied the game at 21, and Britnie Novack put the Lady Longhorns in front with a putback of an Eboni Sapien miss.
Goodland ratcheted up its defensive intensity in the 2nd half, but Engler and Sapien continued to carry Holcomb offensively, combining for all 12 3rd quarter points and the Longhorns were clinging to a 37-34 lead after three quarters. Turnovers and cold shooting doomed the Lady Longhorns in the 4th quarter, as the Cowgirls outscored them 19-5 in the final stanza and pulled away for the 53-42 win. The Lady Longhorns suffered a scoring drought of more than 6 minutes in the 4th quarter.
After shooting nearly 50% in the first half, Holcomb ended up hitting 36% from the field for the game. Turnovers were even in the 1st half, but the Lady Longhorns turned the ball over 24 times for the game, compared to the Cowgirls’ 13 turnovers. Goodland’s Hannah Ferguson led all scorers with 20 points, 14 in the 2nd half. Holcomb’s Eboni Sapien added 13 points to Engler’s team-leading 15. The Lady Longhorns fall to 3-5 on the season and 2-2 in league play, while the Cowgirls improve to 5-4 and 2-2.
Both Holcomb teams will be back in action on Tuesday at the Trojan Classic in Hillsboro. The Longhorn boys are the top seed and will face Riley County (2-7) at 4:30 PM, followed by girls’ action, with Holcomb facing second-seeded Hillsboro (7-2).