By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — Rarer than a thunderstorm in mid-December would be a Holcomb girls loss.
Holcomb got the former and avoided the latter with another decisive win, a 67-39 victory over league foe Goodland on Friday.
In winning the Great West Activities Conference game, Holcomb improved to 5-0, and new coach Kenton Tennal can now say — guardedly —that his girls are doing pretty well under his system.
“We got our inside game going a little bit, which is good. They were always looking for each other,” Tennal said. “A lot of our plays didn’t work well tonight, but that will happen once in a while.”
That was due mainly to good pressure defense from Goodland’s end, he said.
Holcomb used a combination of pressure defense itself and good shooting in the first half to keep the Cowgirls out of sync. The Longhorns forced 15 turnovers, committing only four, and took a 38-20 lead by the break. They also held the Cowgirls to just seven field goals in that time.
Katie Pfeifer and Karissa Pena scored 15 of Holcomb’s first 16 points and 13 of their first 15 in the second quarter to dominate the scoring in that span.
But when Goodland tried to focus on those two, others stepped right in to spread the scoring over the second half.
Pfeifer led all scorers with 25 points, including a trio of threes, while Pena finished with 17, all of hers in the first three periods.
“We’ve had four leading scorers (in six games), and this is the first night we haven’t had at least three in double digits. But we had quite a few with three, six, and eight,” Tennal said. “If you have one person do all your scoring, you’re going to be easy to stop because you’re too one-dimensional. We don’t want to be stoppable.”
Pfeifer likes the team style of shoot-shoot-shoot because it fits the team’s athleticism and shooting talents, and it’s definitely hard to defend against them, she said.
“They can focus on one of us if they want, but we’re a team of scorers. Any given night might be a different person. We really don’t care which one it is,” she said.
Holcomb’s style is to shoot often, and then some, and they didn’t disappoint, hitting 26-of-55 from the floor (47 percent) and 5-of-15 beyond the arc.
Goodland, meanwhile, was just 15-of-44 from the floor, with many of those shots taken as second chances.
That means Holcomb struggled on the defensive end of rebounding, an area of play Tennal said they need to work on.
And despite pressuring the ball most of the night, Pfeifer knows they have some improvements to make on trapping.
“It worked a little better for us tonight, but we still need to work on the rotations,” she said, adding that they are coming along.
As a shorter team, Holcomb has to work harder on the boards, Tennal added. While they won that battle (27-24), they got out-boarded on the offensive end.
“We’ve still got things to work on, but now that we kind of have everything offensively that we want, I think we can work more on the rebounding and the defense, and that should help out,” he said.
Holcomb hosts Southwestern Heights Tuesday, a well-coached, disciplined team, then they take on a tough Colby team after the holiday break before the Hillsboro tournament that he describes as possibly tougher than state.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge,” Tennal said.
Goodland 7 11 14 5 — 39
Holcomb 21 17 17 12 — 67
Goodland (2-4) — Cochran 0 2-4 2, White 0 2-2 2, Mayer 7 4-6 19, Biermann 2 0-0 4, Phillips 2 0-0 4, Siruta 3 0-0 6, King 1 0-1 2. Totals 15 8-13 39.
Holcomb (5-0) — Pfeifer 9 4-4 25, Heydman 2 2-4 6, Deniston 4 0-0 8, Miller 1 0-0 3, Amos 3 1-2 8, Pena 8 1-3 17. Totals 27 8-13 67.
3-pt. goals — Goodland 1-9 (Mayer), Holcomb 5-15 (Pfeifer 3, Miller, Amos). Rebounds— Goodland 24 (Siruta 10), Holcomb 27 (Pena 8). Turnovers Goodland 21, Holcomb 9. Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Goodland 13, Holcomb 14.