By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — It was the perfect Christmas gift — two blowout victories for the Holcomb Longhorns as they get ready to head into the holiday break.
The girls won their game 75-51, while the boys took care of business 73-31 in Great West Activities Conference action at the Holcomb High School Gym on Friday night.
Holcomb played a near-perfect second quarter to blow open what had been a close game.
Up just 13-9 after the first period, the Longhorns went on a 34-7 runaway in the second, hitting 14-of-17 field goals, scoring on 16 of their 20 possessions, and holding Goodland to a field goal and five free throws.
Heath Tucker and Trey Sleep were 9 of 10 from the floor, combining for 23 of Holcomb's 34 points.
With just half the period gone, the Longhorns had a 33-14 lead and never cooled off.
They came out of halftime with the same defensive intensity in the second half, holding Goodland to just three field goals.
For the game, the Cowboys converted just 7 of their 24 field goal attempts.
Holcomb's defense also caused 22 Cowboy turnovers.
Goodland was playing without guard Gannon Ihrig, but brother Gage opened and closed the first quarter with three-pointers to keep the game close.
That was about all the offense Holcomb was going to allow.
"That first quarter we had some miscues, leaving Ihrig open," Holcomb coach Chad Novack said. "But after that, once we limited his touches, we went on our run in the second quarter."
Novack said he hasn't seen too many quarters like the second in this game.
"Everything just seemed to click. It all started with our defense that set the tone and got us going," he said.
Credit the Longhorns with taking advantage of Goodland's misfortunes, he said.
"We did a good job of getting in the passing lanes. We put our hands on a lot of balls, as far as deflections are concerned," he said. "Our kids played extremely hard, especially on the defensive end."
After three games last weekend in the Southwest Classic in which the point differentials added up to 11, this 42-point spread seemed almost like a reward.
"That's exactly why we play the schedule that we do, playing the really athletic ball clubs," he said. "That's why everything seemed a little easier for them tonight. The passes, the defense, everything seemed a little easier because of the competition we played last week."
Holcomb (4-1) got 13 players into the game and 10 of them scored.
Tucker had 12, Sleep 16 and Dalton Gottschalk 11 to lead the way.
"I've said it all year, these kids pass the ball so well. They don't care who scores as long as, at the end of the game, we come out with a win," Novack said. "That's what makes this group so much fun to watch."
Going into the holiday break, Novack likes how his team's work ethic and attitude has come together, given so many younger players.
"We're exactly where we need to be," he said. "Now we just have to keep working on the little things and brushing up on some things. I like where we are right now."
Holcomb will prepare for Southwestern Heights on Jan. 5.
Goodland 9 7 9 6 -- 31
Holcomb 13 34 20 6 -- 73
Goodland (2-4)--Teeter 1 0-0 2, Gage Ihrig 2 4-7 10, Simmerman 0 3-4 3, Avila 0 2-2 2, Smith 4 1-3 9, Snethen 0 3-4 3. Totals 7-24 13-20 31.
Holcomb (4-1)--Gottschalk 5 0-0 11, Tucker 8 2-2 21, Sleep 7 2-3 16, Jarnagin 0 1-2 1, Stegman 0 2-2 2, Richmeier 2 0-0 5, Ramsey 1 0-0 2, Dortch 1 4-4 6, VanCleave 2 0-0 4, Schmidt 2 1-4 5. Totals 28-51 12-17 73.
3-point field goals--Goodland 2-11 (Ihrig), Holcomb 5-20 (Tucker 3, Gottschalk, Richmeier). Rebounds--Goodland 9 (Smith 3), Holcomb 19 (Gottschalk 7). Turnovers--Goodland 22, Holcomb 11. Fouls--Goodland 17, Holcomb 20. Fouled out--none. Technical fouls--none.
The Lady Longhorns looked as though they wanted to end 2013 with a statement.
Goodland got that message loud and clear as Holcomb won 75-51 in a league matchup.
At the same time, the Longhorns kept their record a perfect 6-0.
After Goodland got up 4-0 early, Haley Heydman went on a 10-0 run before the rest of the Holcomb offense got in the books.
After that, it was a matter of attacking the goal, attacking the boards and creating turnovers as Holcomb raced to a 20-8 first quarter lead.
The Cowgirls had as many turnovers as points in that quarter, but got some offense going in the second period.
Unfortunately for them, Holcomb did not cool off, holding a 41-24 lead at the break.
Goodland (5-1) started hitting shots in the second half, but the Longhorns never let off the gas.
Heydman ended the game with 24 points and eight boards, while sophomore Jordan Jarnagin also got 24 points (including a pair of threes) and 11 rebounds.
Taylor Deniston went 7 of 9 from the floor, and was a perfect 4-for-4 at the free throw line to finish with 18 points.
The Longhorn defense also caused 23 turnovers, scoring 25 points on the ensuing possessions.
It was a good way to end the December season and plan for January.
"I thought we played hard for almost the entire game," Holcomb coach Kenton Tennal said. "We still gave up too many points, but that team hit some tough shots that were not high-percentage shots but were falling."
Holcomb attacked the basket well on both ends of the floor, Tennal said, even as Goodland tried a man defense to try to contain the balanced Longhorn attack.
Tennal said he can't wait to play against a zone because his team can get the ball into his posts.
The Holcomb defense, especially Jarnagin, did a good job containing 6-foot-2 post Kate-Lynn King, holding her to just a field goal and two rebounds in the first half before giving way to her in the second half.
King led Goodland scorers with 16 points, with all but two coming in the final two quarters.
It was a good example of playing "5-on ball," Tennal said, with all players performing well on defense, then spreading the wealth on offense.
That concept turned into action was enough to put Holcomb up by 30 late. The Longhorns were able to penetrate fairly easily, but they also hit the long ball when necessary, including a pair by Jarnagin, normally playing post.
"What we look to do is get to the foul line at the beginning of the game. We want to attack, attack, attack and get other teams in foul trouble," Tennal said. "It's been successful so far."
While Goodland keyed on a core of players, others stepped up, including Emily Ratliff, who hit three field goals, including one long ball, finishing with seven points.
The 5-3 junior also grabbed three rebounds in the first quarter to help set the tone on defense.
Holcomb is on break until Dec. 28, and Tennal hopes his girls get into the open gym to keep in shape. They need to stay sharp as they head into the second season, taking on Southwestern Heights Jan. 8.
Goodland 8 16 15 12 -- 51
Holcomb 20 21 21 13 -- 75
Goodland (5-1)--Cochran 0 2-2 2, Be. White 1 0-0 2, Br. White 4 0-0 9, Mayer 6 1-2 13, Biermann 2 2-3 7, House 1 0-0 2, King 7 2-4 16. Totals 21-45 7-11 51.
Holcomb (5-0)--Ratliff 3 0-0 7, Jarnagin 7 4-8 24, Heydman 10 4-5 24, Deniston 7 4-4 18, Amos 1 0-0 3, Harrington 1 0-0 3. Totals 29-61 12-19 75.
3-point field goals--Goodland 2-11 (Br. White, Biermann), Holcomb 5-18 (Ratliff, Jarnagin 2, Amos, Harrington). Rebounds--Goodland 25 (King 6, Br. White 5), Holcomb 29 (Jarnagin 11, Heydman 8). Turnovers--Goodland 23, Holcomb 10. Fouls--Goodland 15, Holcomb 10. Fouled out--none. Technical fouls--none.