Hot start fuels Holton girls in road win at Royal Valley
After an explosive offensive outburst in last Tuesday’s win over Hiawatha, it looked like the Holton girls basketball team caught some of that lightning in a bottle and brought it with them to Hoyt on Friday for a rivalry game against Royal Valley.
Holton shot lights out from beyond the three-point line to start the contest, making seven of 10 long-range attempts in the first half. Courtney Boswell seemingly couldn’t miss, as she hit her first four attempts to help the Wildcats build a 30-17 lead by halftime on the way to a 50-38 victory.
“As (KU men’s basketball coach) Bill Self says, that three ball’s fool’s gold. When it’s going in, it’s great. You can live by it and you can die by it, but, oh boy, you can rack up a lot of points in a hurry when it’s going in,” HHS coach Jon Holliday said. “We were hot. We were sizzling. We had great looks.”
“The first half was a huge success for us, getting out to that huge lead, that comfortable lead,” Holliday said. “As it played out, that was the ball game. That was huge to come out hot, to come out and play loose.”
Royal Valley coach Corey Katzer noted he was aware of the danger of Holton getting on a roll, especially with his team being built the same way, and that first half turned out to be crucial in deciding the outcome of the game.
“When they get on a roll, they can put them up in a hurry. They’re a lot like us,” Katzer said. “When they’re going in, it’s pretty fun to watch. When they’re not, it can be a struggle. It can be ugly. They came out and they were on fire and we were not.”
After building up a 17-11 lead by the end of the first quarter, led by Boswell’s 12 points (all on threes), Holton did not slow down in the second quarter. Sarah Lierz started the period with back-to-back threes and Shay Tanking added one for good measure to help the Wildcats stretch their lead to 13 points.
For as much as Holton’s hot shooting was a factor, it might have been the team’s defense that was causing more issues for Royal Valley. The Panthers have had struggles in the half court offense this season and the Wildcats’ defensive pressure only amplified that on Friday night.
“Most of the teams in the league that we have faced up to this point play kind of a zone press and then fall back into a zone,” Katzer said. “We have not faced anybody up to this point in the season that has come out and got in our face and did the things that Holton did. I think at times our inexperience of not having seen that type of pressure showed. I think it definitely made our struggles that we’ve had at times in running a half court offense show up.”
Even being down by double digits, halftime might have been the best thing to happen to Royal Valley, as Holliday noted he was happy with the Wildcats’ energy in the first half and wasn’t necessarily looking forward to that break in action taking away some of his team’s momentum.
Sure enough, Holton’s shooting cooled off and started to match the cold temperature outside in the second half of the game, while the Panthers started the third quarter on a 7-2 run to get within eight points.
Holton still seemed to hit shots when they needed them, though, as Shay Tanking drained the only three (the team still shot 50 percent overall) of the second half halfway through the third quarter. She then got a steal and lay-up to push the Wildcats’ lead back to 13 points.
Runs like that forced Royal Valley to keep playing catch-up, as the RV girls would get two points, but Holton would follow with three or the Wildcats would hit a field goal after the Panthers made one of two free throws at the other end.
When Royal Valley hits some shots and can build a lead, Katzer noted his team gains some confidence, but playing from behind the entire night might have gotten to his team, the coach admitted.
The Panthers picked up their defense and evened things out a little more in the second half, but the team could never get closer than eight points, even after a crucial three by Tamo Thomas halfway through the fourth quarter. Getting into the bonus to start the fourth quarter, Royal Valley also failed to take advantage at the free throw line to make it a tighter ball game.
Holton struggled at the line, too, but the team made enough down the stretch to maintain its lead and close out the victory. After not having to sub much on Tuesday, Holliday noted the team got some great minutes from its bench on Friday that were key and he was pleased with the team’s performance all-around.
“We knew they were a team that was dangerous. To come down here and get a W in this tough environment, it’s loud and hard to communicate, it’s extremely satisfying,” Holliday said.
Royal Valley executed what it practiced in the second half to make the game closer and while the team played another Big Seven League contender tough, Katzer noted it is time for the team to translate that into a little more progress on the court.
“I think we’re making steps, but they’re baby steps at this point and it’s about time for us to be taking grown-up steps,” Katzer said.
The Panthers (4-5) will try to do just that in their home tournament this week, with Royal Valley kicking off competition against Santa Fe Trail at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Holton (6-3), meanwhile, will try to keep its momentum rolling in the Basehor-Linwood Invitational. The Wildcats will open the tournament with a first round game against the host Bobcats at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
Jan. 15, 2016
HHS: Boswell 4 (4) 7-11 19, Tanking 4 (2) 3-5 13, Weilert 2 2-9 6, Lierz 2 (2) 0-0 6, Moore 2 0-1 4, Riley 1 0-0 2. Totals- 15 (8) 12-26 50.
RV: T. Thomas 3 (2) 5-6 13, Baker 4 0-0 8, Hanson 3 1-4 7, Jordan 1 (1) 0-0 3, K. Thompson 0 3-4 3, Putnam 1 0-0 2, K. Thomas 0 2-5. Totals- 12 (3) 11-19 38.
Rebounding: HHS- 32 (Thompson 13, Weilert 4, Moore 4); RV- 27 (Hanson 9, K. Thomas 4).
Assists: HHS- 8 (Boswell 3, Tanking 2); RV- 3 (Baker 2).
Turnovers: HHS- 17; RV- 22.