By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — The Holcomb boys advanced to Friday's semifinal game in the Class 3A sub-state tournament with a 79-64 win over Kingman on Wednesday night.
But despite the high score, the Longhorns know they'll have to step up their game if they want to advance to the title game.
After taking a 43-25 halftime lead, Holcomb looked to be in the driver's seat, but a resilient Eagles team had other plans.
Kingman went on a 10-2 run to open the third quarter, a span of time that saw Holcomb's Heath Tucker pick up his fourth personal foul and Tyler LaSalle his third.
With those two on the bench, Holcomb struggled as Kingman whittled the 18-point lead down to just eight three different times in the third quarter.
Holcomb made just four field goals, and the four free throws they missed put them at just 13-for-27 for the first three periods.
Ahead just 56-47 to start the fourth, Holcomb went on its own little run to get up 63-47 before Zach Anderson hit a basket with 4:39 to play, the Eagles' first conversion in seven possessions.
Holcomb increased that lead to 20 before Kingman tried to make it close, scoring five straight times late, but the closest they could get was within 13.
Shane Bennett led Holcomb with 15 points (including seven straight to open the second) and 10 boards. Fellow post player Max Ramsey added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Aaron Hernandez scored from inside and out, netting 13, while Jeremy Cox added 10.
For Holcomb coach Chad Novack, the win got his team to the next round, but they left a few questions to be answered.
"That first half, we played extremely well. We executed our offense about as good as we have all year," he said.
Even with LaSalle and Tucker just scoring five points between them that half, they passed the ball well to the open men, he added, and seven other players scored that half.
"But we talked at halftime that Kingman's a very scrappy team and told them we're going to have to continue where we left off in the first half," Novack said. "But we came out kind of flat. It took that 10-2 run to wake us up."
Novack wasn't happy with the free throws, where his team was just 20-for-38 as the Eagles sent his team to the line a lot.
"We left 18 points on the free throw line (Holcomb was just 20-for-38)," he said. "We've been shooting 70 or 80 percent the last 10 games, but for some reason we didn't focus tonight."
LaSalle said the game had a different feel to it.
"It got pretty frustrating when things weren't going our way, that's for sure," he said. "We didn't shoot very well, and that didn't help."
Thursday's day off to practice will be welcome, LaSalle said, especially since they have to face 18-3 Cheney on Friday at Southwestern Heights.
Novack said his team will be ready for Friday.
"This time of year it's advance and move on. Our kids did that tonight and we get to play another game," he said. "We'll fix some of our issues in practice."
Mitchell Packard led Kingman (8-13) with 19 points, and Cody New added 13.
Kingman 10 15 22 17 -- 64
Holcomb 22 21 13 23 -- 79
Kingman (8-13) — New 3 6-7 13, Packard 6 4-6 19, Albright 2 1-2 5, Bradshaw 3 4-5 11, Bangert 3 0-0 8, Maloney 1 0-0 2, Anderson 3 0-0 6. Totals 21-44 15-20 64.
Holcomb (17-4) — Tucker 1 2-2 4, LaSalle 1 5-10 7, Hernandez 5 3-8 13, Cox 4 0-0 10, Gottschalk 1 0-0 2, Gilbert 3 2-2 8, Richmeier 3 1-2 8, Bennett 7 1-4 15, Ramsey 3 6-10 12. Totals 28-56 20-38 79.
3-pt. goals — Kingman 6-11 (New, Packard 3, Bradshaw, Bangert 2), Holcomb 3-12 (Cox 2, Richmeier). Rebounds — Kingman 16 (Bradshaw 8), Holcomb 35 (Bennett 10, Tucker 9, Ramsey 7). Turnovers — Kingman 15, Holcomb 10. Technical fouls — none.
Fouled out — Kingman (Meng, Albright, Bradshaw). Total fouls — Kingman 25, Holcomb 16.