Late run pushes Panthers to victory in county showdown against the Wildcats
Neither Holton nor Royal Valley wanted to give up much ground in a county rivalry game on the basketball court Friday night. Both teams played hard-nosed defense and kept the other in check, but a key stretch late gave the Panther boys just enough separation to pick up a rare 43-32 victory in the series with Holton.
The difference this time around, in RV coach Keith Pelton’s first win over Holton in his four years at the school, was the confidence of his team overcoming the mental obstacles.
“Before, it was always the name on the jersey we were all worried about. I think these kids have got the confidence now that they can worry about the person in the jersey instead of worrying about the jersey,” Pelton said.
Despite an 8-2 run by the Panthers early, fueled by some Holton turnovers, the Wildcat defense cracked down and it took some time for Royal Valley to figure it out. What really helped HHS in the game was the strong post presence that limited the Panthers’ touches inside early in the game.
“We talked to the boys about just discipline. It’s self-discipline. When a shot goes up, I go box out. I find the ball,” Holton coach Ryan Noel said. “Once again, it’s an area we’ve made some improvement in this week. We actually out-rebounded Hiawatha. I thought our guys did a real nice job. Our post play was very solid Friday night.”
Holton’s overall quickness also put a premium on ball movement for Royal Valley, something Pelton noted his team was not too successful with in the first half. That led to some stagnant offense and allowed HHS to stay in the game, especially with Bryson Patch going to work for the Wildcats.
By halftime, Patch had 13 of the Wildcats’ 15 points, helping the team keep the deficit to a manageable one point. While his contributions are no surprise to any league opponent by now, that doesn’t make him any less difficult of a defensive assignment.
“He’s good, but we had some different things that we were going to throw at him,” Pelton said. “Each time, we were just going to ratchet it up a little bit more. We didn’t want to start with a lock down to begin with, see if we could contain him in different ways. We had several different scenarios of what we could do to try and stop him. Obviously, we didn’t do a great job, but we did enough.”
Patch also started to get the unfriendly, visitor’s bounce in the second half as his drives came up just short on more than one occasion, though he still finished with a game-high 22 points.
Defensively, the Wildcats seemed to crank their already strong effort up to another level to hang around going into the fourth quarter. Holton was focused on keeping Royal Valley away from the basket and cutting off penetration into the lane, something HHS did for the majority of the game.
Late in the third quarter, though, the Panthers, and Jarrett Roy in particular, got a toehold inside and Royal Valley started to exploit that opportunity down low. Roy had a strong second half and finished with a team-high 17 points for RVHS.
Once Roy was able to get some points inside, that opened up the lane and Royal Valley’s guards were able to get some easy baskets, leading to an 11-0 run from the end of the third quarter into the fourth that pretty much decided the game.
“I really think that stretch there was kind of the difference. We gave up a few easy baskets, we got into foul trouble and that really sunk the ship,” Noel said. “We had a couple defensive rotations where it’s not that we weren’t where we needed to be, we just didn’t quite get there quick enough. They shot the ball in the post and shot a few free throws and made a bunch of them.”
Holton also struggled to get the angles it wanted and spread the ball around on the offensive end, as AJ Haussler was the next highest scorer behind Patch with four total points.
Despite going through a cold stretch in the second half, Patch did get back on track with a basket made through contact just under the halfway mark in the fourth quarter. He then converted the free throw to keep the Wildcats within five points.
With Roy continuing to dominate inside late, it gave the Panthers enough of a cushion to take some time of the clock and force Holton to foul, with Royal Valley making its free throws down the stretch to close out the victory on top of figuring things out offensively.
“It was running what we wanted to run instead of just trying to beat everybody off the dribble,” Pelton said of the offensive adjustments. “When the ball goes on the floor, everybody stands. If you have a lot more movement and people are moving and filling what they’re supposed to do in their spots, things open up. The gaps were there. That was the main thing. We focused on making sure that we had ball reversal, we didn’t just get stagnant on one side and watch one guy try to take them on.”
The outcome might not have been what Holton wanted, but Noel noted the effort was the type the coach needs to see every night out for his team and he is hoping that bonds this group together for a strong run through the second half of the league schedule.
“It’s real simple. We’ve talked about playing together, coming together and being a group,” Noel said. “I think Friday night was a huge step for our basketball team coming together as truly a team, gaining more trust in each other, more trust in what we’re asking of them, more trust in their assignments.”
Holton (2-7) will look to keep getting strong as a unit as they now prepare to compete at the Tonganoxie Invitational this week, opening the tournament against Eudora at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Royal Valley (8-1), meanwhile, will get ready to host its own tournament and defend its crown as the team looks to keep up its winning ways. The Panthers will open their home tournament against Santa Fe Trail at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
Jan. 15, 2016
RV: Roy 6 5-9 17, M. Spoonhunter 4 (2) 0-0 10, Barger 4 0-1 8, Rottinghaus 3 0-0 6, K. Spoonhunter 0 2-2 2. Totals- 17 (2) 7-12 43.
HHS: Patch 8 (1) 5-8 22, Haussler 2 0-0 4, Frakes 1 0-0 2, Brandt 1 0-3 2, Bain 1 0-0 2. Totals- 13 (1) 5-12 32.
Rebounding: RV- 21 (Rottinghaus 6, Roy 5, K. Spoonhunter 4); HHS- 18 (Frakes 4, Patch 4, Haussler 4).
Assists: RV- 7 (Barger 3, K. Spoonhunter 2); HHS- 3 (Haussler 3).
Turnovers: RV- 11; HHS- 13.
Royal Valley 43, Holton 37