By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — Until recently, Southwestern Heights has had the upper hand in area girls basketball.
Lately, though, Holcomb has emerged as the team of dominance in that matchup, winning its third straight Tuesday night with a resounding 75-31 victory over the Lady Mustangs.
The current No. 2 team in the state 3A polls put the game away early with its emerging patented pressure defense. In the first three minutes of the game, the Lady Longhorns went on a 17-0 run, 14 of those points off six consecutive turnovers caused by a tenacious full-court press.
By the end of the quarter, it was 29-10, and a 15-1 run to end the half made it 47-16 as the Longhorns cruised to its sixth straight win to open the season.
Holcomb (6-0) had been outscoring its opponents 73-44 on average, while Heights (4-2) had been scoring just 38 a game, so this game played out according to the stats sheet.
Also according to paper, Holcomb controlled the boards (24-21) and made over a third of its shots from three-point land (8-for-21).
Katie Pfeifer hit three of those treys on her way to a game-high 20 points, while Karissa Pena scored 16 points on 8-for-10 shooting in just the first three periods.
And back to that defensive tenacity--it forced 27 Heights turnovers.
It was all according to scheme, coach Kenton Tennal said. But he’s a coach striving for perfection.
“It started a little later than I wanted,” he said. “Out of the gate I wanted to win that offensive tip, which we didn’t do, and then I wanted to get our press going and have it be 10-0 before they got the ball across half court, and that didn’t quite work.”
The 17-2 start in three minutes, though, he’ll take, he said.
“We want to start out hot and get going early so we can get a lot of girls playing time and look at a lot of things,” he said.
The pressure defense is one of those “things” he’s been working on in his first year at Holcomb, and each game the diamond press is working better.
Offensively, his girls are executing well, looking for open cutters, kicking the ball out, or driving to the hole, Tennal said, and defensively the Longhorns gave up fewer offensive boards than they did last week. It’s a good balance thus far, he said.
Heights’ Nayelly LaPoint had been averaging 16 points a game, so Tennal put Haley Heydman on her most of the night and told her to hold LaPoint to less than double digits.
The Mustang’s leading scorer finished with just eight.
At 6-0 going into the break, Tennal said he hopes they can keep the intensity going until January, when they come back to face rival Colby in a game he’s had circled since the schedule came out.
Being highly ranked also comes with a target on them, as well, Tennal said. But it’s something they talk about every day, as well as being the best shooting team in the state and winning state.
“If you don’t put that thought in your mind, which we’ve been doing since day one, you’ll never reach that goal,” he said.
That’s why he challenges his team to play even better the second half of the season.
“I think we’re progressing exactly as we need to be,” he said.
Southwestern Heights 10 6 6 9 — 31
Holcomb 29 18 18 10 — 75
Southwestern Heights (31) — Amparin 3 2-3 8, Longoria 3 1-2 8, LaPoint 3 2-4 8, Couch 1 0-0 3, Leal 1 0-0 2, Loya 0 1-2 1, Chavez 0 0-2 0, Hasenbank 0 1-2 1. Totals 11 7-16 31.
Holcomb (75) — Pfeifer 6 5-6 20, Jarnagin 2 2-2 6, Prieto 4 0-0 9, Heydman 3 1-2 7, Deniston 3 0-0 8, Amos 3 0-1 9, Pena 8 0-1 16. Totals 29 9-12 75.
3-pt. goals — SWH 2-13 (Longoria 1, Couch 1), Holcomb 8-21 (Pfeifer 3, Prieto 1, Deniston 2, Amos 2). Rebounds — SWH 21 (Amparin 5), Holcomb 24 (Heydman 6, Pena 5). Turnovers — SWH 27, Holcomb 13. Fouled out — Holcomob (Deniston). Total fouls — SWH 14, Holcomb 16.