CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

January 26, 2013

PREP BASKETBALL: Terry, Broncos end lengthy title-drought with 47-42 win over defending champion Raiders (PHOTO GALLERY)

By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times

HANCEVILLE — After 16 long years, the drought is finally over for Holly Pond's varsity girls' basketball team.

Taylor Terry scored 17 points and the Broncos played outstanding defense to come away with a 47-42 triumph over two-time defending-champion Good Hope.

Saturday’s win gives Holly Pond its first girls’ Cullman County Basketball Tournament championship since 1997.

"It's everything that you think it would be and more," Terry said of the magical moment. "This is what you work hard for all season. We knew it would be tough."

Holly Pond led by eight at halftime, but Good Hope stormed out of the locker room, outscoring the Broncos 15-5 in the third quarter to take a two-point advantage heading into the final frame.

Good Hope's Cara Goodwin made it a four-point lead on a layup early in the fourth, but Holly Pond's Natasha Holcombe wasn't about to be outshined.

The junior missed most of the first half with back issues but responded in a big way, scoring all nine of her points in the fourth quarter, including two big 3-point baskets to help her team pull away late.

"I knew I had to push through the pain," Holcombe said. "I told coach (Scott) Adams to put me back in the game."

Holcombe's first 3-pointer came after a Terry basket to give Holly Pond a five-point lead.

Her second trey, however, was her biggest contribution of the night.

Holcombe followed Good Hope's Darcie Wilson's 3 — which cut the Broncos' lead to two — with a trey of her own on her team's ensuing possession to extend their advantage back to five.

"For her to come back like she did, it was special," coach Scott Adams said. "I wasn't going to put her in there unless she told me she could do it."

Good Hope was unable to make the plays it needed down the stretch, while Holly Pond poured in 8 of its 12 attempts from the charity stripe to seal the deal.

"It was a gutsy, character win for our team," Adams said. "For them to be in the fourth, knowing they had finished second the last four years, that's a big burden to bear. But, they decided to do something about it and I'm proud of them for it."

Taylor said her team had plenty of motivation heading into the game.

"We (the seniors) wanted to win this one for Lexy (Malone)," she said, referring to her injured teammate, who suffered an ACL injury for the second year in a row earlier this season. "Along with playing Good Hope again, that was all the motivation we needed."

Meg Gambrill dished out 10 points for the Broncos, joining Terry and Holcombe as All-Tournament Team selections.

Other Holly Pond contributors included Rachel Finley, six points; and Taylor Rowell and Lexi Lynn, two apiece.

Adams was especially happy for his seniors afterwards.

"The unselfishness of those seniors is incredible," he said. "They take full ownership of everything, and that's the reason we are able to go what we do."

Kayla Tillman's 16 points paced Good Hope, while teammates Cara Goodwin and Katelyn Bishop added 11 and six points, respectively.

Kacy Thomas tallied four points; Wilson, three; and Kami Calvert, two.

Tillman, Goodwin and Savannah Fendley were also named to the All-Tournament squad.

The All-County team was also announced following the game. Terry, Gambrill and Holcombe made the exclusive list for the Broncos, while Tillman and Wilson represented the Raiders. Others included Jordan Melton, Vinemont; Chloe Harbison, Haley Freeman and Caitlyn Hall, Cold Springs; and Rachel Persall and Madison Rusk, West Point.

The annual Charlotte Cummings Scholarship was given out to Holly Pond's Lexy Malone. When Malone’s name was called, Adams rose to his feet, embraced the departing senior and then sat down on the bench in tears as she claimed her award.

"I am so happy for her," he said. "It's so deserving. It's an empty feeling when you are a senior and you can't help your team on the floor due to an injury. I hope this scholarship can ease her pain a little."

Persall rounded out the night’s honors as the recipient of the Bill Shelton Award.