It didn’t always come easy for coach Mitch Morris’ team on Monday night, but when the dust finally settled, it was Holly Pond that ascended to the top of the Class 3A, Area 12 Tournament.
The Broncos (23-5) received big-time contributions from Jacob Cahoon on the inside and Colby Adams on the perimeter, outlasting New Hope 64-54 en route to their fourth consecutive area crown.
Adams, who led all scorers with 20 points, said the Indians were a far cry from the team Holly Pond beat by 33 earlier in the season.
“They have a good team that plays hard and physical,” he said. “It was a completely different team out there tonight. They’ve really improved as the season’s progressed.”
The Broncos took advantage of their height in the opening frame, as Cahoon poured in seven of his 17 points in the game’s first eight minutes.
Tied at 13 midway through the second, Adams hit a pair of treys on back-to-back possessions to up his team’s lead to six.
From there, Holly Pond fed the ball inside to Cahoon and Austin Smith, resulting in a 10-point cushion at halftime.
“I can’t say enough about our post players tonight and all season,” Adams said. “Jacob was great. He played really strong. He and Austin rebounded well, too.”
The Broncos built their lead to as many as 16 points in the second half, but New Hope refused to go down without a fight.
The Indians pulled to within seven points with two minutes left to play in the fourth and were in possession of the ball looking to cut into their deficit.
However, a bad inbounds pass careened off the fingertips of an Indians’ player and into Adams’ hands. The junior took a few dribbles, found himself completely unguarded and buried a deep 3-pointer from the wing to increase the Broncos’ advantage back to 10 points.
“That wasn’t the plan,” Adams said with a grin. “Coach wanted us to take some time off and possibly get fouled, but they didn’t guard me and I thought I’d take the shot.
“As soon as it left my hands, I knew it looked good.”
With its lead safely intact, Holly Pond wound down the rest of the game, making a few free throws here and there to clinch another area title.
“It’s always nice to win one of those,” Adams added.
Gunter Morris pitched in with nine points, while Cody Jones and Smith added seven and six, respectively. Carter Hays netted four. Ben Wilson was good for one.
Holly Pond will host a sub-regional game on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Broncos will play Geraldine.
% Holly Pond 48, Brindlee Mountain 34: The Lady Broncos struggled out of the gates early but found their game just in time, surviving a gritty Lions’ squad to earn their fifth consecutive area championship.
“I loved our effort on D and our energy early,” coach Scott Adams said. “We just couldn’t hit a basket.”
After a Meg Gambrill bucket extended Holly Pond’s lead to 19-11 early in the second quarter, the Broncos struck cold, scoring just three points the rest of the frame.
“I think we missed around 20 shots before Rachel (Finley) made that 3-pointer at the end of the half,” Adams said. “I was a little upset that we were settling for those shots, though.”
No. 7 Holly Pond (25-5) corrected that problem in the third quarter, getting some easy baskets in the paint and, when guarded, some quality kick-outs and looks from the perimeter.
“Sometimes 3’s are the easy way out,” Adams said. “Sometimes you need to make those tough baskets inside. I thought when we slowed it down a little, we did that tonight.”
The Broncos galloped away in the fourth quarter, riding back-to-back layups from Taylor Terry to race out to an 18-point advantage.
Toward the end of the game, Holly Pond fans were given a treat as senior Lexy Malone checked into the game. The senior tore her ACL in late December and was thought to have been lost for the season.
Malone found herself right in the middle of the action, tying up with a Lions’ player for a jump ball.
“I’m glad she was able to do that,” Adams said. “She deserved it after everything she’s been through and the way she’s supported this team all season. I would have liked to see her take it a little easier, though.”
Terry finished with a game-high 17 points, while Natasha Holcombe contributed 14. Finley collected nine points. Gambrill was good for five; Taylor Rowell, two; and Lacy Malone, one.
Holly Pond’s next game will be a sub-regional matchup at home against Geraldine on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.