By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
HOLLY POND —
The Holly Pond varsity boys played the role of lion tamer on Friday night, riding Austin Smith’s 23-point outburst to a devastatingly lopsided 78-38 win over Brindlee Mountain in the first round of the Class 3A, Area 12 Tournament.
The Broncos (22-5) also received double-digit contributions from three other players to pick up the easy victory.
Holly Pond had a fight on its hands to start the contest, as the Lions matched the Broncos shot for shot early and trailed by just two points after one frame.
“The first quarter was awful,” coach Mitch Morris said. “You’re afraid those might happen since this is a team we’ve beaten twice already this year. But, we were able to play a lot better after that.”
Smith quickly remedied his team’s slow start, dropping 11 points in the second, while manhandling Brindlee Mountain's undersized frontcourt.
The sophomore center's scoring, along with improved team defense, allowed Holly Pond to close the quarter on a 15-2 run and take an 18-point advantage into the half.
“Austin made his presence known tonight,” Morris said. “He was our spark. If he doesn’t play like he did in the first half, who knows if we would have gotten on the run that we did.”
The second half was more of the same for the Broncos as they turned up their on-the-ball pressure and forced numerous turnovers, squelching any chance of the Lions making it close.
Colby Adams was the hot hand in the third, hitting two 3-pointers as part of his 10-point explosion to further add to the Lions’ deficit.
With his team holding a 30-point cushion early in the fourth, Morris was able to rest his starters and give the reserves some valuable minutes down the stretch.
The dominance exuded by Holly Pond in the paint allowed the Broncos to take advantage of Brindlee Mountain in another statistic — free throws.
They hit 20 of 27 attempts on the night, while the Lions made just seven.
“Our offense is predicated on the dribble-drive,” Morris added. “Tonight, we were able to really take advantage and shoot our free throws well.”
Adams contributed 14 points, while Gunter Morris and Ben Wilson added 12 and 10, respectively. Six more Broncos scored at least two points as well.
The win for Holly Pond guarantees Morris’ squad will see at least two more games. For the head coach, he’d like both those games to come at home.
The Broncos will need to take care of New Hope Monday at 7 p.m. to make it happen, though. The Indians defeated J.B. Pennington 54-42 earlier in the evening.
“It was an important game tonight just because it’s a one-and-done type of game,” Morris said. “We have a tough New Hope team in here on Monday. I’ve told our team that we needed to take the easiest road to regionals that we can.”
“The next step in that plan is to win Monday and host a sub-regional game on Friday.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.