West Holmes Boys Basketball

Knights battle hard but fall short in 57-47 loss to Lex

Shane Jones came off the bench to add spark to the Knights' effort

Coming into his team’s game against the West Holmes Knights, Lexington boys’ head basketball coach Scott Hamilton wanted nothing to do with listening to anyone talking about records.

His minutemen came in at 6-0, while Keith Troyer’s Knights were still seeking their first win of the year.

“Tonight was a bit of a different test for us,” Hamilton said following the game. “Unfortunately, their record doesn’t show the kind of team that they are, and I tried to convey that to the kids. I have a lot of respect for Coach Troyer and how he works with his kids. He gets them to play hard every night, even with the record they have right now.”

Hamilton said he felt his players weren’t quite ready for the challenge West Holmes gave them in the contest.

With the Minutemen’s 67-57 victory in the Dungeon, Lexington may have remained undefeated, while the Knights continued to find that elusive first win, but Troyer was pleased with his teams effort throughout the night, even though he would have loved to have earned the W.

“The effort was there and we played hard for the most part, but we still have those spurts where we kind of go brain-dead at times,” Troyer said. “I liked the way we battled for most of the game. I think in some ways this was a step in the right direction for us tonight. E battled against one of the best teams in the league.”

While many may have viewed this one as an easy walk-through for the Minutemen, it was anything but. Lexington took an early 4-0 lead, but threes by Brayden Chaney and Blaine Hager lifted the Knights to their first lead at 7-6. A pair of Hager free throws made it 9-6, and after Traevin Harrison’s two free throws trimmed the Knights’ lead to 9-8, West Holmes pushed back and went up 14-8 on a Connor Roach and-one and Chase Wells’ two free throws. Dana Shoulders raced down the floor for a lay-up to end the first quarter with west Holmes up 14-10.

West Holmes knew it would face some Minutemen runs, since Lex pushes the pace of games with its full-court pressure, and after Josh Goudy scored to make it 16-10, Lex went on a 10-0 run led by a couple of Mason Kearns scores inside and two scores from A.J. Nickoli.

Now trailing 20-16, the Knights needed a big bucket, and they got one when Trenton Bridenthal uncorked a perfect 3-pointer to trim the deficit to 20-19.

West Holmes took a one-point lead late in the half when Chaney drilled home another triple, but a Nickoli steal and a feed to Dana Shoulders gave Lex a 23-22 half-time lead.

The first few minutes out of the locker room were going to be key, and Lex used a Cade Stover score inside and Nickoli’s three-ball to forge a 30-22 lead. West Holmes was teetering, but again responded.

Hager hit two free throws, Chance Wells drained a 3-pointer and a jumper and Shane Jones stuck back his own missed free throw, as the Knights tried to keep pace. Trailing 37-31, West Holmes got consecutive buckets from Chase Wells and Bridenthal, and at the end of three it was 37-35 Lexington.

This was not the way this game was supposed to be playing out, but the Knights seemed intent on proving everyone wrong.

However, an 8-2 run by Lex to begin the fourth quarter again put West Holmes in tough spot, and it was Stover who was taking over, scoring six points to lead the charge.

“He is such a tough match-up for anyone,” Troyer said of Stover. “When he gets the ball down low he knows what to do with it.”

The Knights tried in vain but could never get closer than eight points the rest of the way.

“They did a nice job of jumping some passing lanes late in the game to get some key steals, and they excel at that,” Troyer said. ‘That is when we have to be smart enough to take care of the ball and read the defense better.”

Troyer had high praise for Bridenthal and Jones, both of whom came in off the bench to provide the Knights with some really solid minutes. Bridenthal ended the night with five points and a team-high six rebounds, while Jones only scored two points but played with intense energy during his nine minutes of action.

“I think Trenton is just now starting to get back to where he is comfortable after having not played the past two years,” Troyer said. “He has been showing some good things. And Shane just plays hard, and he was very active on the boards. I liked the effort from them, and that is what we are going to need from those guys.”

Troyer said that with his team trialing by one at the half, they talked about responding to an inspired Lexington effort in the second half.

He felt his Knights did a better job of taking care of the ball in the second half, but still had a few costly ones.

He also added that the difference between an undefeated team and a winless team is that winning teams tend to come into a contest thinking they will win, while winless teams are just hoping to win.

“They do the little things right,” Troyer said of Lexington. “We had some moments where we weren’t consistent. I told the kids coming in that if we took care of the ball and were strong with it, we could compete with them, and we did. But they came in expecting to win this game, and although we were right there, we can’t go out and hope to win, we need to expect to win.”

Stover led all scorers with 16 points, and tacked on a game-high seven rebounds. Nickoli and Shoulders both added a dozen for Lex. Leading the Knights in scoring was Hager, who canned three triples as part of his 15-point evening. Chase Wells added eight, Chaney scored six and Chance Wells added five.

The game may have been a good feeling of growth for the Knights, and it also served as a good lesson for the Minutemen, according to their head coach.

“I felt like I failed our kids tonight because they came in here with a little different attitude than I wanted them to have, and I think that was because of the records,” Hamilton said. “That’s my job, so this didn’t make the game very enjoyable for us to watch, but when it came down to the end, we did some nice things well as a team. It wasn’t just one guy who did it. I thought we were getting better defensively, and tonight we gave up too many open looks from behind the arc, and I thought West Holmes took advantage. We still have some work to do, but I like the way these kids have worked together so far this year.”

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