Holton boys get off to hot start in 2015 in win over Jeff West
Call it an omen. Call it good timing. Call it hard work paying off. Whatever you want to call it, Wildcat Trey Tanking’s steal and ensuing three-point play to start Tuesday’s basketball contest between the Holton and Jeff West boys certainly seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game, a 74-44 victory for HHS.
From the start, Holton coach Ryan Noel has maintained an intense focus on the defensive end of the court and he said the Wildcats kept that up over the winter break. While it took a little time to get back in a rhythm in the first game of 2015, Holton eventually clamped down and corralled the visiting Tigers.
“In our practices over break we demanded an awful lot out of them and they met some of those demands. They worked really hard,” Noel said. “Really, I wanted to see if we were close to getting into shape and I thought we were. I wanted to see how hard we could play and I thought they played real hard on the defensive end, so I was pretty pleased.”
Both teams didn’t give up much in the first quarter, but that gave way to a game of “anything you can do, I can do better” in the second quarter. Trey Tanking hit a three early on, but Jeff West’s Grady Middendorf answered with back-to-back threes to bring the Tigers to within a point, 21-20.
From there, the game changed drastically as Holton’s Garett Beecher slashed to the basket for two points out of a timeout that was just a drop in the bucket of the offensive outpouring that was to come as the Wildcats closed out the first half on an 18-5 run to take a 39-25 lead into halftime.
After a cold start from beyond the arc, Beecher quickly heated up in the second half on his way to a game-high 38 points, winning the battle with co-league scoring leader Jacob Dickey, who had 15 points in the game for Jeff West.
“No one ever sees the hours that he puts in, but it’s a credit to him and all that time spent in the gym when no one’s in here that he can have a little bit of success and a fun night when people are here,” Noel said of Beecher.
The outcome of that individual battle helped the Wildcats win the war, too, and Noel also credited Tanking for the lockdown defense he provided when he switched to guarding Dickey later in the game.
Tanking also fueled the Wildcats’ transition game, which picked up in the second half, and both players’ successful nights helped their teammates as well, which Noel said was a big part of that critical run at the end of the first half.
“I thought we started making some shots in that run and I thought we shared the ball well. We got other people involved and I think that was important,” Noel said.
While the Wildcats got into some foul trouble, with starting forward Indie Allen drawing his fourth foul just 15 seconds into the second half, that didn’t deter Holton’s defensive effort.
Noel noted the Wildcats got key contributions from Kaden Brandt and Aaron Bain off the bench to help the team continue to execute its game plan.
While Holton had a challenge in negating the height of one of the teams with the most collective size it has seen this season, Noel noted the HHS players did a better job of that in the second half while nearly hitting their goal of holding the Tigers to 42 total points.
“We just wanted to be good defensively. We wanted to limit them to one shot, box, board and run the floor. We thought we could have an advantage there,” Noel said. “We didn’t do that in the first half very well. Their goal at halftime was to rebound better and get baskets in transition in the second half, so I thought they achieved that.”
All of the Wildcats were also more aggressive in driving to the basket in the second half and started to draw some fouls on the Tigers to get points at the free throw line as well.
Beecher hit a three to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 19 points as the third quarter drew to a close, which might well have been the finishing blow as Holton added 19 more points in the fourth quarter while Jeff West could only muster eight, allowing HHS to pick up the 30-point win on its home court.
Even with a good start to the second half of the season, Noel said there is still work to be done. The Wildcats haven’t shied away from it yet this season, but Holton will have one of its biggest challenges on Friday as HHS (4-2) travels to Seneca to take on Nemaha Central. Games will start at 4:30 p.m.
“I think we took some strides Tuesday evening and that’s important for us to move forward because there are some goals that we’re trying to meet and we’re not there yet,” Noel said.
Jan. 6, 2015
HHS: Beecher 38, Tanking 16, Bergsten 8, Allen 3, Sides 3, Patch 3, Wright 3.
JW: Dickey 15, Middendorf 14, Overstreet 6, Mickens 4, Livingston 2, Brown 2, Schmidt 1.
Rebounding: HHS- 27 (Bergsten 4, Allen 4, Beecher 4, Brandt 4, Sides 4); JW- 20 (Livingston 5, N. Schmidt 3, Middendorf 3, Overstreet 3, Mickens 3).
Assists: HHS- 17 (Tanking 7, Beecher 4, Wright 3); JW- 9 (Mickens 3, Overstreet 3, Dickey 2).
Turnovers: HHS- 8; JW- 13.