By KEVIN THOMPSON
Holcomb — Playing against a team Holcomb head coach Kenton Tennal described as athletic, Tennal knew his Lady Longhorns were going to have to come out strong Thursday night in the opener of the Southwest Clarion Classic.
Strong they were, as the Lady Longhorns easily handled Denver South 73-38.
Tennal challenged his team to be the aggressor from the start, putting up some pretty impressive numbers.
Holcomb responded by nailing 17 field goals and forcing 18 turnovers in the first half against the Lady Rebels, taking a commanding 53-20 halftime lead.
The Longhorns seemingly could do no wrong in the first half, going on a 30-0 run in an eight-minute span to put the game away quickly and early.
Tennal said he had his girls run a 1-3-1 defense early, then decided to switch to the diamond press they ran all last year, and his girls did well.
In just their second game of the season, Holcomb had to come out playing a Tennal-style, with a full court press, a multi-pass offense and scoring from all spots.
Holcomb scored 21 points off of turnovers in the first half.
"We knew they'd have trouble handling the ball, and we took advantage of that," he said after his team forced 25 miscues, even with a running clock in the final period.
The Longhorns improved at the line, as well, going 18 for 24 compared to last Friday's 12 misses.
About the only downfall of his team, Tennal said, was losing a little focus as the lead got up to 36 at some points.
He could only play eight girls due to JV tournaments coming up, so his starters got a lot of minutes with combinations of reserves.
It seemed to work as four Longhorns hit double figures, led by Haley Heydman's 21.
Taylor Deniston had 19, Kylee Amos 16 and Jordan Jarnagin 12.
South was led by Naudia Sweets with 11, including a pair of threes.
Tennal still thinks his team stood around too much on rebounds, but he'll get a chance to see how his girls fare tonight against a formidable Pueblo East squad.
That team has its three leading scorers back, as well as a definite height advantage.
"It's going to be a fun one," Tennal said. "And Wichita Trinity (Saturday) will be tough, as well."
Friday's game starts a 6 p.m., with the boys to follow. Saturday's games start at 4.
Denver South 9 11 13 5 -- 38
Holcomb 32 21 18 2 -- 73
Denver South (0-4)--Moore 1 0-0 3, Ray 0 0-2 0, Kindell 4 0-0 9, Sweets 4 1-2 11, Mestes 3 1-2 7, Albury 4 0-3 8. Totals 16 2-11 38.
Holcomb (2-0)--Jarnagin 2 7-10, Engler 1 0-0 2, Heyman 10 1-2 21, Deniston 4 9-10 19, Amos 6 1-2 16, Harrington 1 0-0 2. Totals 24 18-24 73.
3-point field goals--Denver South 4 (Moore, Kindell, Sweets 2), Holcomb 6 (Jarnagin, Deniston 2, Amos 3). Fouls--Denver South 17, Holcomb 15. Fouled out--none.