By BRETT MARSHALL
It's a fine line between doing the little things that produce a win, or not doing those little things that result in a loss.
And after a 3-0 start to the season in which they did the former, the Holcomb Longhorns' boys got a bitter pill of the latter, dropping a 67-58 decision to Denver South on Saturday night on the final night of the Clarion Inn Southwest Classic at Holcomb High gym.
In a game that was physical from the opening tip to the final buzzer, the Longhorns struggled to match up with the Rebels' athletic frontcourt and cat-quick guards.
"We didn't stop their dribble-drive, we didn't run our offense very well and we just weren't a very good basketball team," said Holcomb coach Chad Novack. "For some reason, we just didn't bring it tonight. I thought we played a little tentative. Playing a bigger, athletic team, we have to be fundamentally sound and we certainly weren't that."
After falling behind early, 11-4, the Longhorns rallied for a brief lead at 12-11 just before the Rebels scored to grab a 13-12 lead after one quarter.
While they were never able to grab the lead in the second period, the Longhorns were still right in the thick of the battle, trailing only 27-22 at halftime.
"I thought we were taking a lot of iffy shots and at times it was evident we were doing the things that make us successful," Novack said.
The Longhorns were still hanging tough midway through the third quarter, trailing just 35-31 on a Tyler LaSalle driving layup. A 12-5 Rebels' run to cap off the third quarter, however,produced a 47-36 South advantage heading to the fourth stanza.
"The kids didn't give up, and I thought they kept fighting," Novack said, "but we just couldn't bring it back. I'll never fault their effort, but we just didn't execute our offense.",
In the final eight minutes, the Longhorns trailed by as many 13, 65-52, and were never closer than eight, 52-44.
It was a parade to the free throw line for the Rebels as they cashed in on 11-of-14 charities down the stretch. South scored its final 10 points at the line, with its last field goal a highlight reel slam dunk by 6-6 center Ibrahim Sylla who took a pass off the backboard from teammate Earl Chavez and stuffed it through.
Balance was a big factor for the Rebels in their first win of the Classic after losing to Scott City and Garden City on Thursday and Friday.
Five players scored in double figures for the Rebels, with Chavez leading the way with 16, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Malik Tollerson, Sylla and Antonio Garcia each had 12 points while Cameron French added 11.
LaSalle's 19 points topped the Longhorns. LaSalle struggled in the first half, making just one free throw and had five points in the third quarter before nailing 13 in the closing quarter.
Aaron Hernandez played perhaps the best of all the Longhorns, finishing with 15 points and grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds.
The Longhorns will have until Friday to regroup, when they host Goodland in a Great West Activities Conference contest.
Denver South 13 14 20 20 -- 67
Holcomb 12 10 14 22 -- 58
Denver South (67) — Tollerson 5-9 1-3 12, Garcia 2-8 7-9 12, Sylla 4-12 4-5 12, French 5-8 1-2 11, Hopkins 1-2 1-2 3, Johnson 0-2 0-2 0, Chavez 6-12 0-0 16, Wariner 0-4 1-2 1. Totals 23-57 15-25 67.
Holcomb (58) — LaSalle 7-13 2-3 19, Hernandez 6-14 3-4 15, Cox 1-4 4-5 6, Rupp 0-0 0-0 0, Richmeier 1-2 0-2 3, Komlofske 0-0 0-0 0, Bennett 5-14 1-2 11, Ramsey 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 22-51 10-16 58.
3-point goals--South 6-17 (Tollerson 1-2, Chavez 4-8, Wariner 0-3, Garcia 1-4), Holcomb 4-8 (LaSalle 3-6, Richmeier 1-2). Rebounds--South 37 (Tollerson 12), Holcomb 36 (Hernandez 14). Turnovers--South 20, Holcomb 15. Fouls--South 16, Holcomb 21. Fouled out--Holcomb (Ramsey). Technical fouls--South bench (Incorrect scorebook entry).