By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
GOOD HOPE —
Natasha Holcombe opened up shop, Meg Gambrill closed it and Taylor Terry kept the whole operation running smoothly in the meanwhile, as Holly Pond took down red-hot rival Good Hope 54-43 late Monday afternoon.
The outcome snapped the Raiders’ eight-game win streak and helped the No. 6 Broncos (Class 3A) rebound from a disappointing loss against West Point last Friday.
“It feels really good to get that win,” Holly Pond coach Scott Adams said. “Anytime you can beat Good Hope, it’s a big win. Coach (Michael) Oldacre and Coach (Scotty) Cofer do a great job. I really respect their girls.”
Holcombe wasted no time setting the tone for the Broncos, draining a 3, hitting a running jumper, pulling down offensive boards and refusing to be outhustled by anyone on the court. Behind that scrappy style of play and Gambrill’s emergence as a playmaker midway through the second quarter, Holly Pond jumped out to a comfortable 33-18 lead by halftime.
“I told her on the bench, ‘You started out so aggressive tonight, and I appreciate that,” Adams said of Holcombe, who wound up with 12 points.
Just when the Broncos thought they could sit on a 19-point lead in the third quarter, the Raiders made their first move with 13 unanswered points — six from sharpshooter Kayla Tillman, five from Cara Goodwin and two from Savannah Fendley — closing the deficit to just six before Gambrill closed the quarter with a momentum-shifting 3-pointer.
“We started off rusty, and they played a real intense first half,” Good Hope coach Michael Oldacre said. “Third quarter, we came out and started getting our game in order and put together a better second half.”
Like the first 16 minutes, the last eight were all Holly Pond. The Broncos kept the Raiders off the board until Tillman sank two free throws with 2:32 remaining and received enough offensive contributions from Gambrill, Terry, Holcombe, Taylor Rowell and Rachel Finley to squash Good Hope’s comeback bid.
“I thought for awhile we were going to have a comfortable win and then they fought back,” Adams said. “But I was really proud that our girls then fought right back. It was one we needed.”
With Holly Pond still adjusting following center Lexy Malone’s second ACL injury in as many seasons, Gambrill stepped up and was every bit the stellar point guard Adams expects her to be. She knocked down two 3-pointers, created points off turnovers, delivered clutch plays when necessary and ended the night with a team-high 19 points.
“Meg Gambrill stepped up and was unafraid in a big game,” Adams said. “She puts so much pressure on herself and burdens herself with wanting to play well that she sometimes paralyzes herself. I’m so proud of the way she played tonight. I thought that was huge for us.”
Terry made her presence known inside with 10 points and double-digit rebounds, while Finley finished with six points, Rowell scored five and Lacy Malone had two.
The Raiders’ Tillman connected on four 3-pointers and led all scorers with 20 points. Other Good Hope contributors were Fendley and Katelyn Bishop with seven points apiece; Goodwin, five; Darcie Wilson, three; and Kayla Scott, one.
The Broncos (16-4) will host Brindlee Mountain today, while the Raiders (12-10) will be off until they travel to Vinemont Friday. Both are area contests.
% Holly Pond 74, Good Hope 33: The Raiders kept it close and even tied the score twice in the first quarter, but the Broncos runned and gunned for 15-0 and 13-0 runs in the second and fourth to complete the varsity sweep.
Gunter Morris took the court guns ablazing for No. 6 Holly Pond (15-4) and finished with a team-high 16 points, only one more than his teammate, Colby Adams. Backup center Ben Wilson rounded out the Broncos in double figures with 12 points.
Other Holly Pond contributors were Jacob Cahoon, nine; Carter Hays, eight; Austin Smith, six; and Vince Clingman and Blake Black, four each.
Good Hope’s Andrew Cofer was productive with 17 points, and Alex Cofer had six. Other Raider contributors were Eli Marty, four points; Mason Johnson and Ethan Cofer, two apiece; and Zack Sloan and Johnathan Grigsby, one each.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at email@example.com.