A tough schedule during the regular season is known to produce resilience in the post-season. The Holcomb Lady Longhorns basketball team put their experience to the test in the 3A sub-state championship game against the higher ranked Cimarron Lady Bluejays. After a tough battle Holcomb came out on top with the 60-49 victory. Holcomb head coach Kenton Tennal said their development throughout the season was the key to defeating Cimarron.
“I think we were more guard oriented at the beginning of the year,” he said. “We were able to start developing that post game especially after that Colby loss. I honestly think that Colby loss won us this game tonight. We had to realize we couldn’t just do it with the guards and we weren’t going to be able to waltz in to a gym and win. We were going to have to put the work in and we were going to have to start moving the ball. The girls did it. We had an inside-outside game and we did everything we needed to. Threes weren’t falling and if we would have been playing like we were at the beginning of the year with the threes not falling we wouldn’t have won that game.”
Cimarron jetted out to a solid start in the first quarter. Three three-pointers, two by Lady Jay junior Ashtynn Burns, set the tempo early. The Holcomb defense began pressing, forcing three turnovers that resulted in baskets. The Lady Longhorns took the lead 16-15 at the end of the first quarter. Cimarron’s Morgan Ediger came up big knocking in a three to start the second but Holcomb regains the lead late. They kept that lead and took Cimarron in to halftime ahead 25-21. The Lady Jays didn’t resurface better in the second half. The Lady Longhorns did.
“The second half has always been our best of the two and we just knew that it was hammer time,” said Holcomb junior Kyshia Prieto. “It was time to go and we wanted that trip to state again.”
Holcomb’s leading scorer, senior Katie Pfeifer, said she felt a burst of momentum in the fourth quarter.
“They had a lot of people in foul trouble and we weren’t in foul trouble anymore,” she said. “We have played in tough games before so we knew what it would take to pull it out of there. We made our free throws and we made some shots so it worked out for us tonight.”
The Lady Jays battled but the Longhorns endurance proved to be the tipping point. Holcomb sank their free throws as the final minutes counted down and upset Cimarron 60-49. This is the Lady Longhorns second consecutive trip to the state tournament. Last year they lost in the first round and the players say they have some unfinished business.
“Last year we left in the first round and that sucked so this year we know what that feels like and we know the pain,” Pfeifer said. “We don’t want to do that again. It’s our last year and we want to win it.”
3A Boys Sub-State Championship: Scott City vs. Holcomb
The other battle between state-ranked opponents also sent a familiar team back to the state tournament. The Holcomb Longhorns had a strong first quarter push but when the Scott City Beavers found their groove there was no mercy. The Beavers will head back to the state tournament after an 81-61 victory.
“We’ve played them three times now and it’s pretty tough to beat a team three times,” Senior post Joey Meyer said. “We know their plays and they know our plays. It took us a while to get going but when we got our offense flowing we did really good things out there.”
The Beavers started slow and allowed Holcomb to take a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter. It wasn’t long until they shifted gears and the Beavers took an 11-point lead at halftime.
“I mean they came out and they were playing some pretty tough defense,” said Beaver senior Tyler Hess. “I think they were trying to go triangle-and-two on Brett and Trey and trying to take them out of the game. Joey, Drew and I really stepped up and we had a great game out there. We didn’t stop them on defense at the beginning but we got with it there at the end and did a little better.”
Scott City continued to expand on their lead throughout the remainder of the game. One of the final plays was set up perfectly by senior guard Brett O’Neil. He juked out his defender and found senior post Drew Kite under the basket who ended their dominant reign with a dunk. The Beavers made a statement in the 3A sub-state championship. They are No. 1 in the state but their nine seniors will not stop at anything less than another state championship.
“Just to do it one last time before we graduate that would be awesome,” Hess said. “These are great guys and I love my teammates so it’ll be great.”
“Well it’s our senior year so it’s our last year going,” Meyer said. “I think we have a lot of confidence going in because we have been there and we know what we are supposed to do up there.”