The Cullman Times
HOLLY POND —
The Holly Pond basketball program picked up right where it left off in February, opening the 2013-14 campaign Friday night with a hard-earned sweep of county-rival Cold Springs.
The Lady Broncos, last season’s Class 3A state runners-up, battled past the sharp-shooting Eagles 59-52, while the boys, fresh off a state semifinal appearance, cruised to a 69-37 victory.
If someone would’ve told Scott Adams Meg Gambrill would only score two points, Taylor Rowell would foul out and his Green and White girls would still win, the defending 3A Coach of the Year wouldn’t have believed it. That’s the way events unfolded in Friday’s season opener, though, making for a marquee matchup that came down to the bitter end.
Cold Springs (1-1) came out hot to stake a 15-11 advantage at the end of the first quarter, but Holly Pond (1-0) bounced back to head into halftime up 27-26. It was back and forth the rest of the way with the Broncos leading 43-40 after three and holding on to end up on top.
Natasha Holcombe finished with a game-high 19 points, 10 of which came at a crucial time in the third quarter. The senior nailed three 3-pointers and went 6 of 9 at the free-throw line, where her Holly Pond squad shot 16 of 27 overall. The Eagles made seven of their 13 attempts at the charity stripe.
Rachel Finley also reached double digits for the Broncos with 14 points.
“Those two seniors really stepped up,” Adams said of Holcombe and Finley.
All nine of Abby Gambrill’s points came in the second half, including six on a back-to-back 3-pointer and three-point play in the fourth quarter that quickly got the Green and White out of a hole and put them in the driver’s seat.
Holly Pond’s other scorers were Rowell, eight points; Kaitlyn Stephens, four; Melissa Clingman, three; and Gambrill, two.
Bailey West knocked down five of Cold Springs’ 11 3-pointers on her way to a 17-point performance. Chloe Harbison and Haley Freeman both helped out with 11 points.
The Eagles’ other contributors were Emme Willoughby, six points; McKinnley Davis, three; and Keegan Johnson and Caitlyn Hall, two apiece.
“You always know what kind of game it’s going to be against Cold Springs,” Adams said. “They’re a really good basketball team, and they can really shoot, so I’m really proud of the way the girls battled through some adversity.”
The boys game was much less dramatic thanks to a balanced effort by Holly Pond’s talented trio of Austin Smith (21 points), Colby Adams (16) and Gunter Morris (12).
The Broncos clung to a 18-14 lead after the first frame but used a stingy defense and lights-out shooting from Adams and Smith to extend their cushion to 41-22 at the break.
Triston Chambers paced Cold Springs (1-1) with 26 points. Layne Rice had nine.
Holly Pond will head to West Point next Tuesday, while Cold Springs will host Good Hope.
% Good Hope 56, Fairview 42: Just a week removed from a first-round playoff game on the football field, linebacker Alex Cofer traded in his cleats for a pair of sneakers to lead the Raiders to an opening-night win with a game-high 16 points.
Eli Marty and Tyler Vanderburg rounded out a balanced scoring effort for the Red and White with 15 points apiece.
Chance Hill was the Aggies’ top scorer with 11 points.
The next shot for Fairview (0-1) to give coach Kurt Knight his first win with the program will come Nov. 26 at home versus Vinemont.
% West Point 76, Vinemont 64: The Warriors sped to a 45-27 lead at intermission and staved off a second-half push by the Eagles to corral a season-opening win.
West Point (1-0) coach Randy Jones had four players finish in double figures. Levi Laney sank 10 of his 12 attempts at the free-throw line to wind up with a team-high 15 points. Riley Voce wasn’t far behind with 14 points, while Tristan Dubberly and Ryder Jones were each good for 10.
Lance Stanley tickled the twine from behind the arc three times to boost his game-high total to 19 points. Garrett Sipe and Riley Foust pitched in 11 points apiece for Vinemont (1-2), which will take a trip to West End on Tuesday.
% West Point 51, Vinemont 19: Madison Rusk went off for 20 points to send the Warriors to their second victory by at least 30 points in as many nights.
West Point was off to the races after jumping out to a 16-4 first-quarter lead.
Bailee Yearwood tossed in 11 points for the Warriors (2-0).
The Eagles (1-2) received seven points from Hannah Adamson and six from Katie Speer.
% Good Hope 56, Fairview 41: Despite losing Nina Mills, Kayla Elrod, Kayla Tillman, Darcie Wilson and Cara Goodwin to graduation over the last two seasons, the latest batch of Lady Raiders proved it’s still more than capable of balling by defeating the Aggies in opening-night action on Friday.
Just when coach Michael Oldacre thought his Good Hope squad was in control with a 22-4 lead following the first quarter, Fairview made a similar run in the ensuing frame to pull within seven at the half. The Raiders were able to stretch their advantage back out in the third quarter, though, which turned out to be the difference in the eventual outcome.
“For three quarters, we played real well,” Oldacre said. “Give Fairview credit. They played hard and fundamentally sound. I was glad to come out of there with the win.”
Katelyn Bishop’s 14 points were tops for Good Hope, which also received notable contributions from Kacy Thomas (11 points), Kayla Scott (eight) and Celeste Whisenant (six).
Aggie eighth-grader Taylor Yeager had a game-high 16 points, while senior Kennedy Trimble had eight.
% The Times’ sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.