The Holcomb Longhorns faced their stiffest test yet this season and responded with another strong third quarter to turn a tie game into a 20-point rout over Sunrise Christian Academy, 73-53.
It was a back-and-forth battle through the first 16 minutes, featuring 6 ties and 6 lead changes. Neither team led by more than 4 points, forging a 17-17 tie after one quarter. The defenses clamped down a little tighter in the second quarter and when the first half ended, the Longhorns held a 30-28 halftime lead.
One minute into the third quarter, the game was tied for the 7th time at 32, but that’s when the Longhorn defense took over, turning back-to-back turnovers into points and running off 11 unanswered points over a two-and-a-half minute span. After an SCA basket trimmed the lead to 9, the Longhorns ripped off another 11-0 run to build a 20-point lead. Heading into the final quarter, Holcomb led 56-36. The Longhorns stretched the lead to 29, 69-40, midway through the fourth quarter and then coasted to the 73-53 win.
Conner Van Cleave, battling most of the night against Sunrise’s 6-8 post, Marcus Fager, led the Longhorns with 19 points and 8 rebounds, while Christian Merz tossed in 17 points and Braden Showalter followed with 10. Brandon Stegman dished out 9 assists. SCA’s Marcus Fager led all scorers with 22 points, but 12 of those came late in the game, mostly against Holcomb’s reserves.
Once again, the Longhorns controlled the boards 34-20, limiting the Buffaloes to just 4 offensive rebounds. Holcomb turned the ball over 8 times, compared to SCA’s 9, but the Longhorns scored 12 points off turnovers.
Holcomb will face Hesston, a 62-35 winner over Bennington, in the championship game at 7:30 Saturday night.
The Lady Longhorns will start the day at 11:30 AM, following a 52-47 win over Sunrise Christian Academy. Trailing 27-22 at halftime, Holcomb used a 19-7 third quarter surge to take a 41-34 lead into the final stanza. Down the stretch, Courtney Wren hit a three-pointer and made 4 of 4 free throws and Jordan Jarnigan hit 2 of 4 free throws and Holcomb hung on for the win.
Eboni Sapien led the way for Holcomb with 21 points, followed by Jordan Jarnigan with 11.
The Lady Longhorns will square off against the Republic County Buffaloes in the fifth place game at 11:30.
Both games will be heard on AM 1030 KBUF.