SC no match for Holcomb’s inside game in tourney finals
SCHS senior Jess Drohman drives to the basket against Holcomb’s Conner VanCleave during Saturday’s sub-state finals.
By Rod Haxton, editor
There was little doubt going into Saturday’s sub-state title game the Scott City boys would have to find some way to limit Holcomb’s success in the paint if they wanted to upset the No. 1 ranked team in Class 4A-DII.
It didn’t happen.
Holcomb fed the ball inside to their big men - Conner VanCleave
and Kobe Dickson - who combined for 39 points in handing the Beavers a season-ending 65-51 loss on the home floor.
The Beavers (13-9) had no answer inside for VanCleave, a 6-foot-7 senior who finished with 30 points on 10-of-15 field goals.
“We knew their focal point this time was going to be getting the ball inside to Conner,” says head coach Brian Gentry. “We did a pretty good job of defending him until we got into foul trouble.”
In fact, the Beavers were able to open up a four point lead midway into the first quarter with the help of a three-point play from senior guard Drew Duff and three-point baskets by Bo Hess and Jordan Horn.
When Jess Drohman connected on a basket at the 3:39 mark, it gave SCHS its largest lead of the night, 13-9.
It was immediately afterwards that senior center Kyle Cure picked up his second foul and that began opening up the paint for VanCleave.
“Kyle did a great job of making things difficult in the low post. Once he got into foul trouble we lacked the physical presence to slow them down,” says Gentry.
“Part of Conner’s success came from our lack of intelligent play defensively and not getting position the way we needed in order to make his shot more difficult,” says the head coach. “We let him catch the ball way too deep. If Conner’s going to catch the ball three feet from the basket there aren’t a lot of people who can stop him.
“Once Kyle got into foul trouble that’s when it started slipping away from us.”
And it didn’t get any easier for other Beavers tasked with playing defense in the post. Junior Reid Brunswig picked up his third foul midway into the second quarter and Duff soon followed with his third foul.
Within Striking Distance
Even with their inability to stop Holcomb’s inside game, the Beavers were able to stay within striking distance until early in the fourth quarter.
A three-point basket by Hess, who finished with a team high 13 points, sliced the deficit to 34-30 to start the second half. Drohman, who scored 10 points, added a three-pointer at the buzzer that kept the Beavers within five points, 42-37, with only eight minutes remaining.
Holcomb began to create some breathing room with an 11-2 scoring run to open the fourth quarter to open up a 53-40 cushion. SCHS closed the gap to eight points following a three-point basket by junior guard Jordan Horn (53-45) and twice following three-pointers from sophomore guard Marshall Faurot (56-48 and 59-51).
Horn and Faurot finished with 12 and eight points, respectively.
Holcomb was able to pull away with a 9-3 scoring stretch over the final 2-1/2 minutes.
The Beavers accomplished what they wanted to from beyond the three-point arc, hitting a season high 10 treys (10-of-20).
“We knew we needed to shoot the ball well from the outside, but we weren’t finishing around the basket when we had the opportunities,” says Gentry. “And we didn’t get to the free throw line very often.”
Scott City was just 5-of-12 at the stripe compared to Holcomb’s 24-of-39.
Again, Holcomb’s advantage in the paint played a factor in those lopsided numbers.
“When you don’t have an inside presence in the half-court set, the other team doesn’t have to foul as much because we aren’t putting pressure on them,” notes Gentry.
The head coach felt his team was able to make the necessary offensive adjustments early in the game and most of the shots they wanted.
“Layups against a team of that size aren’t going to happen very often,” he said. “For us, the five- to 10-foot pull-up jump shots are great shots when we’re in rhythm.
“We did that early in the game, but as the game went along we began forcing things. Guys start to press in certain situations and feel they have to make things happen. Even when we’re down seven or nine points, we’re more than capable of making up that deficit, but we have to remain patient.
“We didn’t stay the course like we wanted, but when you’re giving up points the way we were down low, it can feel like it’s being handed to you.”
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