With one eye on the approaching sub-state tournament, Tuesday’s game with Holcomb carried a little more significance for the Scott Community High School boys.
With a strong possibility that the two teams could face each other one more time in the Class 3A sub-state finals, this was a final opportunity for the Beavers to send a message that there’s still a significant gap between the two teams.
Consider that message signed, sealed and delivered following Scott City’s 75-50 win on the home floor.
“We felt this was an important game,” says senior guard Austin Habiger who drilled four treys on his way to a 12 point night. “We wanted to send a message that we’re going to be a tough team to beat if we see each other again in sub-state.”
This game carried added significance since Holcomb junior Heath Tucker was back in the lineup after missing the first game between these two teams while recovering from hip surgery. He was one of three Longhorns who finished with 11 points, but he contributed just three of those in the second half.
“This was important in sending a message for sub-state,” says head coach Glenn O’Neil. “I’m sure they think they can beat us, or hope they can beat us. Good teams have to believe they can beat someone else. At the same time, if they would have played us close, they would begin to believe that if they could get Heath (Tucker) more minutes then they could maybe get us the next time. He played pretty well last night, but we still came away with a 25 point win.”
In addition, the win assured the Beavers (17-1, 8-0) of their third consecutive Great West Activities Conference title.
The Beavers jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, but Holcomb erased most of that deficit, trailing 10-9 midway into the first period. That’s when Habiger hit his first trey from the corner that sparked a 12-1 scoring run. The senior added another three-pointer during that stretch and sophomore guard Trey O’Neil added a fastbreak layup for a 22-10 cushion.
Moments after senior pivot Drew Kite converted a three-point play, he was called for his second foul at the 7:18 mark of the second period and he went to the bench with the Beavers on top, 25-14. Both teams traded baskets for the next few minutes until Kite returned with just over three minutes left in the half and his team on top, 31-22.
That’s when the Beavers squashed all hopes of a Holcomb (14-4, 5-3) upset.
In typical SCHS fashion, they put together a 15-0 scoring blitz that covered the final 2-1/2 minutes of the first half and stretched into the early moments of the second half when T. O’Neil hit consecutive baskets that opened up a 46-22 advantage. Kite made his presence known during that run with a three-point play, giving him 10 points in the first half, and senior forward Tyler Hess closed out the half with a fastbreak layup and two free throws that provided a 42-22 lead at the intermission.
Despite a very physical night in the paint, Kite was able to avoid picking up a third foul and finished the night one of five Beavers in double figures with 17 points.
“With Max Ramsey and Shane (Bennett) it’s always going to be physical. When Shane got in early foul trouble I think it helped us a little,” says Kite. “Getting my second foul affected me a little, but after the first half I didn’t think about it.”
“Even with Drew on the bench it showed that we have boys who can continue the flow of the game,” notes O’Neil. “We play enough during practices and scrimmages where we split the boys up so that no group of players relies too much on a single player to do the scoring. We don’t want to play without our starters, but if that happens we have other boys capable of making plays.”
That was evident on Tuesday when a very balanced offensive attack saw five Beavers in double figures, led by Kite and T. O’Neil with 17 points. Joey Meyer added 11 points while B. O’Neil had a double-double with 10 points and 13 assists.
In addition, Hess finished with six points, eight rebounds and four assists.
“That’s an awfully solid game for someone who doesn’t get a lot of headlines,” O’Neil says. “We had six or seven players making a lot of contributions.”
After stretching their lead to 24 points early in the second half, the Beavers were able to hold off any hopes of a Holcomb comeback.
“I think it got pretty frustrating for them,” says Habiger. “When they thought they were playing pretty good ball in the second half and looked at the scoreboard and saw they were still down by 20 it seemed they started hanging their heads a little.”
With the Beavers holding a 51-30 lead, they added another dose of three-point shooting, knocking down four treys in the final 3:36.
T. O’Neil pulled up from beyond the top of the key for a NBA three that extended Scott City’s lead to 58-30. Habiger connected on two more three-pointers and senior guard Brett O’Neil delivered an exclamation point on the 27-point quarter when he calmly brought the ball up the floor following a missed Holcomb free throw and stopped short of the three-point line, hitting a basket with just one second remaining that made it a 69-38 lead.
That signaled the start of the 30-point running clock for the entire fourth quarter.
A basket by Kite gave the Beavers their largest lead of the night, 73-41, before Holcomb closed out the game with a 9-2 run.
Scott City’s perimeter shooting has stepped it up another notch in the last couple of games. They were 6-of-12 from behind the arc against Great Bend before drilling seven treys against Holcomb.
“Scouting reports have been that we’re cold from the outside. I think we’ve started to show that’s not the case,” says Habiger. “I feel our offense is getting better on the inside and outside and we need both of them.”
“It’s great to see Austin hitting his treys and to see Trey hit the long-range three,” adds Kite. “We’re playing pretty well offensively and defensively. That’s what we like to see, especially late in the season.”