For the better part of their contest with Ohio Cardinal Conference league title challenger Lexington, the West Holmes Knights played one whale of a tremendous game.
Unfortunately for the Knights, to defeat a team as good as Lexington, it takes 32 minutes of excellent play, and a couple of runs helped the Minutemen dispose of the Knights 60-50 at The Dungeon at West Holmes High School on Tuesday, Feb. 6.
“Over the past number of games, we have played some pretty good teams and been right there with them,” West Holmes coach Keith Troyer said. “But these winnable games, but teams that are used to winning, they find ways to win, and we aren’t quite there yet.”
Lexington (14-5, 7-3 in OCC play) went on a mini-run early in the contest, scoring seven straight points to make a 2-2 tie a 9-2 Minutemen lead. However, the Knights (5-12, 1-8 in OCC play) battled right back. Led by Chase Wells, they carved into the lead to draw to within 14-10 at the end of the first period.
The Knights then put together a terrific second quarter to draw even at 25 at intermission. Jacob Goudy scored inside to start a three-set series of the teams trading scores, which included buckets from Shane Jones and Chase Wells. A Bryant Givand three-ball and a score inside from Ben Vore following a steal spotted the Minutemen to a 23-16 lead. Then Chance Wells took over.
The sophomore sharpshooter canned three straight 3-pointers, and a Kade Stover score inside, his third triple, ended the half with the Knights drawing even. Part of that surge was the play of Jones and Goudy in the middle. Jones drew the job of defending Stover and performed admirably while Goudy swatted six shots, three of them in the Knights’ third quarter run.
However, the Knights came into the game lacking depth, and when starter Ethan Kinsey went down with an injury, that left the Knights even more depleted, something that would take a toll in the second half.
Bryce Myers nailed a 3-pointer to start the second half and give Wrest Holmes its first lead at 30-27. Lex would answer to tie it up at 30, and Jones and Kyle Johnston would trade scores to make it 32-all. The Knights would then retake the lead, their final one of the game, when Chase Wells connected on a jumper for a 34-32 advantage. Lexington would then go on a 9-0 run to end the third period as Mason Kerns would drop a pair of treys to push Lex out to a 41-34 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Chase Wells hit what looked like a monster 3-pointer to start the fourth to draw West Holmes to within 41-37, but the Knights were beginning to tire. Stover started taking over inside, the big 6-foot, 5-inch star extending the lead to 10 at 49-29. Another Wells’ jumper and Jones’ put-back provided some momentary light for the Knights, who now trailed 49-43, but the Minutemen were about to slam the door.
Johnston scored off a steal, and then the Knights committed an intentional foul, allowing Stover to make four straight free throws to make it 55-43. Vore then hit four more free throws, and suddenly the Knights were down by their biggest margin of the game at 59-43. Showing some fight, Myers hit a three-ball, and Jones knocked down a pair of free throws and then scored on another put-back, but it was too little too late as the pair of second-half runs were more than enough to propel the Minutemen to victory.
As the Knights began to tire in the second half, one of the driving forces behind Lexington’s big push was turnovers, which proved costly for West Holmes. The Knights committed 18 turnovers to Lexington’s six.
“I thought turnovers absolutely killed us, and most of those turnovers weren’t as much about us being tired as it was just being a little careless with the basketball,” Troyer said. “We have been doing a better job of taking care of the ball, and when we do that, we have proven that we can play with anyone. We are going to have to learn how to finish games, and we just committed too many turnovers to win.”
Lexington got a balanced scoring attack, led by Stover’s 17-point, 11-rebound effort. Vore added 13, Johnston scored 12, Kearns chipped in with 10 and Givand added six.
West Holmes was paced in the score book by Chase Wells and Chance Wells, both of whom notched 14 points. Jones played well against Stover, making him work hard for his line, and Jones added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Myers scored six points, and Goudy added four points to go with his whopping six blocked shots as he patrolled the paint. Chance Wells added eight rebounds for the Knights, who were only outrebounded by Lex 30-27.
“We’ve played hard, and in a lot of these games, we have played pretty well for stretches of time, but we have to learn how to get it done for 32 minutes,” Troyer said. “I told the kids that if they just keep playing hard, good things are going to happen because it feels like were are really close.”