Holton girls start hot on offense, close out strong for win at ACCHS
When you’re hot, you’re hot and compared to the first two games of the season, the Lady Wildcats were practically scorching on the offensive end in Friday’s basketball game at Atchison County.
After a blazing start in which Holton scored nearly as many points (38) in the first half as it did in the entirety of its most recent win over Perry-Lecompton (41), the team withstood a rally from the host Tigers and pulled away down the stretch to secure a 63-50 victory.
“I think that we just beat a pretty good basketball team,” Holliday said. “I thought we did some good things to combat that. We had them on their heels in the first half. We played a great first half.”
Holton scored quick and scored often to start the game and really dictated the tempo early. The Wildcats corralled the Tiger offense in the first half thanks to some high energy and while the team did get into some foul trouble, it was about the only setback for Holton on Friday night.
“We played hard. We played good. We’ve seen it in practice and finally saw it in a game,” Holliday said. “The intensity level was way up. That’s fun. The energy level was up and that’s fun as well.”
“I thought we did a pretty good job of making them shoot jump shots and not getting lay-ups and we did a better job, I thought, in the second half keeping them off the foul line,” Holliday added.
Atchison County started to break through in the second quarter and went to work in the post as forward Courtney Coder scored six of the first eight points for the Tigers, all from nearly the exact same spot on the left block.
Wildcat Courtney Boswell, who finished with a team-high 21 points, answered quickly with back-to-back three-pointers as Holton continued to shoot well, though Holliday also stressed he didn’t want his team to have an over-reliance on the outside shot.
Holton may have struggled to set up its low post offense against the Tigers, as Holliday pointed out some opportunities it missed in the high post, but the Wildcats made up for that by getting their points in the paint off of putbacks with an improved rebounding effort on Friday.
As well as HHS was playing on offense, rebounding and defense were the keys early. Holton forced 10 turnovers in the first quarter and committed just three, while the team remained strong on the glass throughout the first half.
The Wildcats also continued to respond to any runs by Atchison County with some critical threes, including at the end of the first half when ACCHS got back to within four points.
With less than a minute left, Boswell hit her third three-pointer of the quarter, Holton forced a quick turnover and Ashlyn Weilert then came through by sinking a long jumper to beat the buzzer. Just like that, Holton was back up by nearly double digits, holding a 38-29 advantage at halftime.
“They expended all that energy to get back close and then we throw a dagger right back at them,” Holliday said. “In a game like that, those subtle 30-second spurts, they’re just invaluable.”
As Holliday pointed out, though, there is a downside to relying on the three-point basket. The Wildcats felt that in full effect in the third quarter as they went cold from beyond the arc.
Players continued to get deeper in foul trouble, but Holliday noted the bench helped negate that as every player who entered the game for the Wildcats made a contribution in some way so Holton never really lost that much with the various, necessary substitutions.
Shay Tanking was one of those Holton players to get into foul trouble, but she re-entered the game late in the third quarter and came up with a big three to alleviate some of those shooting woes and put HHS up by six.
Atchison County’s Mallory Eckert did some hot shooting of her own, though, and immediately answered with her own three-pointer to cut the Holton lead to one possession.
It was a five-point game heading into the fourth quarter and it looked like HHS and ACCHS might be heading towards a wild finish, but the Wildcats refocused and made some adjustments on defense to keep the Tigers in check and pull away in the end. Basically, that boiled down to trying to take away the dribble drive, which ACCHS point guard Lillie Holtgrave was exploiting in the second half.
“She was beating us every way she could beat us and our quickest players were in foul trouble, so we backed up, tried to get in a stance, tried to keep it in front of us and make her go side-to-side instead of penetrating,” Holliday said.
Holton did a good job of closing off the lane in the fourth quarter and also went back to controlling the offensive tempo, scoring 10 of the first 12 points in the quarter to pull away in the 63-50 victory. The Wildcats also made nine of 12 free throws down the stretch to close out the win.
In another tough battle, the Wildcats learned a lot about themselves and Holliday had a lot to like about his team’s energy and effort and he is hoping they keep pushing it moving forward.
“Hopefully we had a huge step in growing up tonight. Hopefully we get even better from here,” Holliday said.
The Wildcats will have another tough test in which to potentially push themselves to continue getting better as Holton will take on Hayden in Topeka with games starting at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon (Monday).
Dec. 12, 2014
HHS: Boswell 6 (3) 6-6 21, A. Weilert 4 (1) 1-3 10, Degenhardt 3 2-5 8, Thompson 4 0-0 8, S. Tanking 2 (2) 2-4 8, T. Weilert 1 1-3 3, Moore 1 1-4 3, Sweet 1 0-0 2. Totals- 22 (6) 13-25 63.
ACCHS: Holtgrave 5 (1) 11-13 22, Coder 5 0-0 10, Eckert 3 (3) 1-2 10, Scherer 2 0-0 4, Sullivan 1 0-0 2, Fowler 1 0-0 2. Totals- 17 (4) 12-15 50.
Rebounds: HHS- 31 (Thompson 7, Boswell 6, Snepp 5); ACCHS- 25 (Scherer 7, Eckert 5).
Assists: HHS- 9 (Boswell 3, Boyett 2, Tanking 2); ACCHS- 12 (Holtgrave 5, Fowler 4).
Turnovers: HHS- 21; ACCHS- 25.