By BRETT MARSHALL
SCOTT CITY — Both Jeff Starkey and Scott Stegman, the respective and highly successful boys coaches at Greeley County and Holcomb High, know how to evaluate what contributed to a win or a loss.
And they both offered opinions following Wednesday night's Greeley County dismantling of the Longhorns, 55-39, in the first game of pool play at the Scott City Invitational Tournament.
For Starkey, who won his 100th game as the Jackrabbits coach, early in his sixth season, the victory was all about defense and being patient with the offense as he tries to integrate four to six new players into his starting and substitute rotation after the graduation of key players from last year's 24-2 squad.
"Holcomb's gonna guard you and you're gonna have breakdowns, but I thought our kids played hard and that's what keeps you in games when you're trying to bring along new players," Starkey said.
It didn't hurt the Jackrabbits that their two key returning starters — seniors Stephen Houston and Jonathan Miller — combined to score 45 of Greeley County's 55 points. Houston had 24 points, including 10-of-15 at the free throw line. Miller, a first team Telegram All-Area selection a year ago, added 21 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
"They're gonna have to be the ones to carry us early until we can get the others figuring out what they need to be doing," Starkey said. "I thought tonight was more about us scrambling on defense and then matching them with the physical play in the second half."
The Jackrabbits have prided themselves in recent seasons under Starkey on playing stingy defense, and Wednesday's performance was another prime example.
"They're a good club and they took us out of our offense," a disappointed Stegman said. "We had no flow, no patience on offense. We just wanted to shoot it, and I hope we've learned some things. We need to slow down and just let the game come to us."
The hard-nosed defense by both teams kept the game low scoring throughout the first half as Holcomb held a 12-10 lead at the end of the first quarter only to have Greeley County respond to go into halftime ahead by three, 22-19.
Midway through the third quarter, it was still anybody's game for the taking with the Jackrabbits clinging to a 27-23 lead after Kyle Walck's reverse layup with 4:21 left in the period. Then the roof caved in on the Longhorns.
"We got a little out of control and let our emotions and frustrations get in the way of playing basketball," Stegman said. "We've got some seniors and young kids playing and you can't have the experienced players not doing the things that you need them to do."
That lapse in the quarter cost the Longhorns dearly as the Jackrabbits expanded their lead to 14, 39-25, by finishing off with a 12-2 run.
"The score is more typical of what we face in our league and not what we expect when we come over here to the tournament," Starkey said. "Usually, we feel good if we can keep a team to around 50, so I'm happy with the defensive effort.
"We're still not doing a lot of the little things right and we can't turn the ball over that much (22 times) and expect good things to happen."
Holcomb countered, though, with 27 of its own miscues which left Stegman puzzled by the turnabout performance after they played well in a tough 69-66 overtime loss to Liberal on Friday to open the season.
"We had more turnovers in the first half (14) than we did the entire game against Liberal," bemoaned Stegman. "But credit Greeley County. They work you to death and they get after you."
Senior Logan Singhisen was the lone Holcomb player in double figures, finishing with 11.
Pool play in the six-team tournament was to continue today with Wichita County facing Lakin at 3:30 p.m. and Greeley County taking on Wichita Defenders at 6:30 p.m. On Friday, it will be Scott City taking on Lakin at 6:30 p.m. and Holcomb (1-1) meeting Wichita Defenders at 8 p.m. Championship, third place and fifth place games are slated for Saturday.
Greeley Co. 10 12 17 16 -- 55
Holcomb 12 7 6 11 -- 39
Greeley Co. (2-0) — Govert 0-1 0-0 0, Miller 9-13 2-5 21, Schneider 1-5 5-6 7, Wilson 0-0 1-2 1, Yanez 0-1 0-0 0, Robertson 1-3 0-2 2, Houston 6-10 10-15 24, Smith 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 17-34 18-31 55.
Holcomb (1-1) — Singhisen 4-8 3-4 11, LaSalle 1-10 1-2 3, Homer 0-2 0-0 0, Gaede 4-8 1-2 9, Galliart 0-0 0-0 0, Walck 2-7 3-4 7, Thomas 1-1 2-4 5, Tucker 0-0 0-0 0, Bennett 2-4 0-2 4. Totals 14-40 10-18 39.
3-point goals — Greeley Co. 3-7 (Miller 1-2, Schneider 0-1, Robertson 0-1, Houston 2-3), Holcomb 1-11 (LaSalle 0-6, Homer 0-1, Gaede 0-2, Walck 0-1, Thomas 1-1). Fouls — Greeley Co. 16, Holcomb 27. Fouled out — Holcomb (Walck, Tucker). Rebounds — Greeley Co. 22 (Miller 8), Holcomb 30 (Bennett 8). Turnovers — Greeley County 22, Holcomb 27.