West Holmes

Back-to-back wins elude West Holmes

Four days ago the West Holmes Knights boys’ basketball team ended its 18-game losing skid with a win over Clear Fork.  On Feb. 16 in Millersburg, the Knights tried to win their second straight and get a streak going in the other direction.

Halfway through their game with Fairless on Tuesday, the Knights were on pace to do so.

Leading 22-21 after two quarters, West Holmes looked like they may be on its way to that two-game winning streak.

‘Not so fast my friend’ said the Falcons from Fairless.

The Falcons tore off on a 14-2 run to start the third quarter and left the Knights, and their hopes of back-to-back wins, in the dust.  The Knights wouldn’t recover from the Falcons’ surge, falling to Fairless 55-49.

Fairless was led by Christian Simmons who poured in a game-high 25 points and he also yanked down seven rebounds and had six swipes. Justin Pavlik and Joey Nicolino added seven each for the Falcons in the win.

West Holmes got 17 points from sophomore Chase Wells and 12 from junior Josh Goudy.  Connor Roach played an inspiring game on the defensive end with four steals and the junior also scored seven points at the offensive end of the floor.

The Knights led after one period 12-9. Leading 5-3 after a Brayden Chaney 3-pointer, West Holmes got a pair of buckets inside from Roach (video) and a triple from Wells to end the quarter with the three point lead.

Both teams refused to find the bucket early on in the second quarter.  A Simmons put-back for Fairless was the only basket the crowd witnessed in the first four minutes of the second.

The Knights finally woke up with buckets in the lane from Wells and Goudy to get what would be their biggest lead of the game, 16-11.

Fairless answered, as the scoring finally picked up in the second stanza, with a Simmons trifecta and a score from Philip Hunter to tie it up at 16 a piece.

Wells and Jason Schumacher traded triples and then Wells got a superstar lay-up to fall right before the buzzer of the second to give the Knights their one-point lead at the break, 22-21. (video)

Now just 16 minutes away from getting their second win in a row the Knights needed to come out of the locker room and take this the game by the reigns.

That didn’t happen.

Fairless bolted out of the half on a 14-2 run and led West Holmes 35-24 midway through the third.  What once was a close one, opened up in a hurry.

“We talked about the things that we could control. I don’t think that we were locked in from the get go, so we really emphasized that,” said Fairless coach Kevin Bille about the Falcons’ big run to start the third period.  “It was more about us at this point and we wanted to play with some more confidence, attack the hoop and make some shots.”

Oh, they made shots. Simmons scored six points during the run, Pavlik had two easy looks that he buried and Hunter nailed a 3-pointer to put the Falcons up 11 and take the mojo out of the Knights.

“They hit shots,” said West Holmes coach Keith Troyer about the pivotal point in the game that saw Fairless take a commanding lead.  “Give them credit for doing what they had to do to win the game.”

The Knights weren’t out of it yet.

Wells knocked down a triple late in the third quarter to draw the Knights a bit closer at 40-31 after three. (video) The Knights finished the third quarter on a mini 9-5 run to draw within in single digits heading to the fourth quarter.

West Holmes’ sophomores Brenden Bridenthal and Wells both swished deep balls to cut the Fairless lead to 45-40 two minutes into the final quarter.   Then an old fashion three-point play by Connor Roach and another Bridenthal three kept the Knights within two possessions with two minutes to play.  West Holmes trailed 51-46 with a glimmer of hope remaining.

The Knights then sent Nicolini to the foul line where he would miss the front end of the one and one.  Trouble was the Knights allowed an offensive rebound and the Falcons swung the ball to an open Justin King, who sunk a dagger from downtown to push the Falcons’ lead to 54-45. That glimmer of hope was now completely erased.

It was the second time the Knights allowed a big offensive rebound that ended up with a Falcons’ 3-pointer.

“We lose by six, and gave up numerous offensive rebounds,” said Troyer. “Two of those offensive rebounds, they hit threes, so there’s your six points.”

Those offensive rebounds and some late turnovers by the Knights doomed their chances of coming away with the win.  West Holmes had six turnovers in the game’s last two minutes.

“The effort is there,” said Troyer. “We just have to take care of the ball and execute at the end.  There were just too many unforced turnovers that hurt us.”

Like the Knights, the Falcons had a large losing streak this season.  With the win in the Dungeon though, the Falcons have now won three straight and have a 8-13 record overall.

“We’ve struggle on the road this season,” said Bille. “We were 5-3 and then went on a 10-game losing streak, and now have won three in a row. It’s been and interesting season, but I feel like we’re finally coming into our own.”

“I like that it was a close game, especially getting close to tournament time, because we don’t shoot free throws very well and we got to make some tonight and take care of the ball at the end,” Bille continued. “I thought we had a chance to put them away sooner and we didn’t.”

West Holmes falls to 2-19 on the year with one final make-up game against Clear Fork on Saturday, Feb. 20. The Knights didn’t win two in a row, but they still have a chance to take down the Colts for a second time this year.

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