By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

SCOTT CITY Chad Novack and the Holcomb Longhorns are still searching for the right formula when they tangle with the Scott City Beavers.

On Friday night, in a game that decided the outcome of the Great West Activities Conference title, the Beavers once again established themselves as the dominant team in western Kansas.

That's the claim that can be made after the Beavers' 68-43 romp over the Longhorns.

In December, the Beavers had taken down the Longhorns 63-46 in Holcomb when Novack, in his first year guiding his alma mater, and his team were still getting acquainted.

This time, however, the Longhorns had won 13 of 14 games and were 7-1 in the GWAC while the Beavers came in with an umblemished 8-0 league mark.

"They've got a good team and have bought into coach Novack's program and they played with a lot of confidence early," Scott City coach Glenn O'Neil said of Holcomb. "I think we were able to get our defense to get the transition baskets and we were fortunate that our runs were longer than theirs."

Holcomb came out looking every bit the challenger to knock down the Beavers, the No. 1 ranked team in Class 3A and the defending state champions.

With Clay Gilbert knocking down eight points, the Longhorns were right there with the Beavers after eight minutes, the game knotted at 14. Halfway through the second quarter and it was just a two-point Scott City lead, 23-21.

That's when the dam broke in favor of the Beavers. The final 10 points of the quarter came from Scott City, propelling the Beavers to a 33-21 halftime bulge.

"They made the runs, we didn't respond," Novack said of that second quarter surge. "They're very good and when you make the kinds of mistakes we did, you're going to have a tough time against them."

Novack said the Longhorns' strong start was the result of running and executing the offensive plays and going hard on defense.

"I thought we had our game plan executed very well in the first quarter," Novack said. "Then, I think their pressure got to us and we made some mental errors."

When the teams came back from the halftime break, Holcomb started the third just as it did in the first. A 9-2 Longhorn run trimmed the Scott City lead to 35-30 with 6:25 to go and then another flood of Scott City points hit the Longhorns.

A 13-3 spree to close out the third provided the Beavers with a comfortable 51-33 lead heading to the fourth. That was as close as the score would get over the final eight minutes.

"I thought all our kids played a good game, there's a lot more to it than just scoring," O'Neil said. "I thought our rebounding and defense played a big key for us. It was a battle and I expect them to regroup and come back for the sub-state. They'll make adjustments."

Novack said he hoped his team would play smarter the next time around, should the opportunity present itself.

"I thought we competed hard, but we didn't play smart," Novack said. "Sub-state's in Scott City so if you want to go to Hutch, you've got to go through Scott City."

Brett O'Neil topped the Beavers scoring attack with 21 points, including 10-of-12 free throws. Joey Meyer and Tyler Hess contributed 10 points each and Drew Kite pulled down 11 rebounds to help the Beavers to a 28-24 edge on the boards.

Heath Tucker, who hit 3-of-3 from 3-point range, scored 11 points to pace the Longhorns. Holcomb was guilty of 18 turnovers to just 11 for Scott City.

The Beavers travel to Hays on Monday for a make-up game against TMP-Marian and then return home on Tuesday for their regular season finale against Goodland. Holcomb closes its regular season out on Tuesday with a road game at Ulysses.

------

Holcomb 14 7 12 10 -- 43

Scott City 14 19 18 17 -- 68

Holcomb (13-6, 7-2) Cox 0-5 0-0 0, LaSalle 3-7 0-0 7, Homer 2-6 3-4 7, Tucker 3-4 2-4 11, Gilbert 4-6 0-0 8, Thomas 3-4 0-1 6, Bennett 1-2 1-1 3, Ramsey 0-2 0-0 0, Hernandez 0-3 0-1 0. Totals 16-39 6-11 43.

Scott City (17-1, 9-0) B. O'Neil 5-10 10-12 21, T. O'Neil 3-5 0-0 8, Robinson 2-6 0-0 5, Clinton 1-1 0-0 2, Hess 4-8 0-1 10, Habiger 1-2 0-0 2, Wilson 0-0 0-0 0, Meyer 5-6 0-1 10, Kite 1-5 6-10 8, Ratzlaff 0-0 0-0 0, Yager 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-43 16-22 68.

3-point goals--Holcomb 4-6 (Cox 0-1, LaSalle 1-2, Tucker 3-3), Scott City 6-10 (B. O'Neil 1-2, T. O'Neil 2-3, Robinson 1-2, Hess 2-2, Habiger 0-1). Rebounds--Holcomb 24 (Gilbert 5), Scott City 28 (Kite 11). Turnovers--Holcomb 18, Scott City 11. Fouls--Holcomb 20, Scott City 14. Fouled out--none.

Girls

Holcomb 70,

Scott City 46

In the girls game, the Holcomb Lady Longhorns utilized their depth to gradually pull away as the game progressed.

After building leads of 17-14 at the end of the first period and 34-27 at halftime, Holcomb then put the game out of reach with a 25-12 third-quarter explosion.

"We like to play the fast pace and the girls are scrappy," said Holcomb coach Kelley Snodgrass. "I thought we played hard defensively and had several ladies step up."

Two of the team's usual high scorers lived up to that billing as juniors Karissa Pena and Katie Pfeifer scored 18 and 17 points, respectively, but it was the play of reserves Taylor Deniston and Madison Taylor that had Snodgrass beaming.

Deniston hit 6-of-7 field goals and finished with 12 points while Taylor cashed in 9-of-14 free throws for all of her points.

"Taylor is very transition-oriented," Snodgrass said. "I thought we played unselfishly, making that extra pass."

If there were any concerns for Snodgrass, it was her team's foul situation.

"We have a tendency to get into foul trouble, but I thought our bench really came in and stepped up," Snodgrass said. "Overall, though, I was pleased with the team's effort."

Scott City got 16 points from Audrey Baker and 10 from Jessica Lowenthal to pace the Lady Beavers (5-13, 3-6).

Holcomb, which has played well of late, improves to 13-6 and 7-2 in the Great West Activities Conference.

In the team's respective regular-season finales, the Beavers host Goodland while Holcomb travels to Ulysses.

------

Holcomb 17 17 25 11 -- 70

Scott City 14 13 12 7 -- 46

Holcomb (13-6, 7-2) Pfeifer 6-15 2-3 17, Prieto 2-9 3-4 8, Heydman 1-3 0-0 2, Mongeau 1-3 0-0 2, Taylor 0-1 9-14 9, Deniston 6-7 0-0 12, Amos 1-3 0-0 2, Pena 7-10 4-4 18, Knoll 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-52 18-25 70.

Scott City (5-14, 3-6) Faurot 0-2 0-0 0, Hoeme 2-7 3-6 9, Wycoff 0-2 1-2 1, Nickel 4-7 1-2 9, Baker 5-13 5-11 16, Hawker 0-3 0-0 0, Lowenthal 5-9 0-2 10. Totals 16-43 10-23 46.

3-point goals--Holcomb (Pfeifer 3-9, Prieto 1-2, Amos 0-1), Scott City 3-5 (Hoeme 2-2, Wycoff 0-1, Baker 1-2). Rebounds--Holcomb 33 (Heydman 7), Scott City 32 (Nickel 9). Turnovers--Holcomb 14, Scott City 24. Fouls--Holcomb 18, Scott City 23. Fouled out--Scott City (Lowenthal).