By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
HOLLY POND —
As the Cullman County champs, Fairview can expect to have a target on its back the rest of the season.
Cold Springs hit that mark smack dab in the middle on Monday and Holly Pond managed to do the same one night later, using a dazzling 16-point performance from Austin Smith, a go-ahead jumper by Colby Adams and a trio of late layups from Jacob Cahoon to upstage the Aggies 50-42 at home.
The atmosphere was tense from the get-go, with players from both squads constantly hitting the floor and getting chippy with one another. Cahoon didn’t expect anything different out of a Holly Pond-Fairview showdown.
“It’s a rivalry. You’re going to battle and battle, and they aren’t going to call much,” the senior said. “You just have to play how you can play and do what you can do.”
Smith appeared to have something to prove in a matchup featuring two of the county’s best centers. With Fairview’s Blake Parker well rested after being sidelined against the Eagles, Smith decided to strike early, somehow banking in a reverse layup to put the Broncos on the scoreboard.
The junior didn’t stop in the second quarter, adding two inside shots and two jumpers to cap his first half total at 10 points and give Holly Pond a slim 25-24 lead heading into the locker room.
Smith padded the Broncos’ cushion even further with two quick baskets out of the break. Adams, Gunter Morris and Blake Blake extended the advantage to nine late in the third quarter, but the Aggies didn’t go down without a fight, clawing back to tie the game at 38-, 40- and 42-all with a little under two minutes remaining in the final frame.
As he has all season, Adams came through in the clutch, knocking down a 2-point shot with a defender right in his face for what wound up being the game-winner. Cahoon then iced the county contest with three consecutive layups, the last resulting in a trip to the line.
“I just wanted to make a play, stop the ball and do what I could to keep them from scoring,” Cahoon said of his game-saving sequence, which shot his point total from four to 10 in not much more than minute. “It was great.”
Adams joined teammates Smith and Cahoon in double figures with 13 points, while Morris pitched in six.
Parker put the finishing touches on a 13-point display in his return by draining two free throws to even the score at 42-42. Fellow Aggie Elijah Garrison did the same at the charity stripe a few possessions earlier to finish with 11 points and tie the game at 38-38.
Peter Kessler and Luke Bailey accounted for seven points each.
No. 7 Holly Pond, which improved to 19-5, will travel to Hanceville on Friday, while Fairview, which dropped to 19-8, will host West Point in a rematch of the county’s title tilt on Thursday.
% Holly Pond 59, Fairview 20: The Broncos waited 15 years to add another county championship to their trophy case but needed just three days to tack on another win to their season total, blasting the Aggies with an impeccable performance from behind the arc.
“I was a little concerned about a lull after the county tournament, but I thought overall, the effort was pretty good,” coach Scott Adams said.
No. 7 Holly Pond (22-4) connected on a whopping 11 3-pointers, with Meg Gambrill and Lexi Lynn leading the way with three apiece. Natasha Holcombe, Taylor Rowell, Rachel Finley, Kristen Sparks and Abby Gambrill all had one trey each.
Lynn was good on nearly every deep shot she threw up in the first half. She completed a rare four-point play to start her scoring and kept up the pace with two more treys and one of the deepest 2-point shots possible to give the Broncos a comfortable 31-5 lead at halftime.
“I’m really proud of my senior there. She’s such a good leader,” Adams said of Lynn. “If she hadn’t been scoring in the first half, we wouldn’t have had many points.”
Meg Gambrill’s 16 points were tops for Holly Pond and just four more than Lynn compiled. Holcombe piled on nine points in limited playing time.
Julia Creel led the Aggies with four points.
Rowell doesn’t generally take too many shots for the Broncos but found the ball in her hands right before the buzzer sounded in the third quarter. Despite launching it from well behind the arc, Rowell swished the shot, prompting a cheer from the home-crowd and a grin from Adams.
“What we’re trying to do now is continue to work hard, get the county tournament out of our heads and look ahead,” the coach said.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.