By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — Whoever scheduled Holcomb's homecoming had everything lined up perfectly.
A GWAC league opponent having an off year with both home teams playing well, down the stretch.
The results went as expected, with the Holcomb girls winning 62-43 and the boys winning 66-52.
The game plans for both teams, however, weren't quite what either Holcomb coach had diagrammed.
Besides the win, the Holcomb girls got a lot of unexpected playing time for its junior varsity players. Eight first-quarter fouls forced three starters to the bench.
The Lady Longhorns held an 18-11 after that quarter, and then they took advantage of a Cowgirl shooting drought in the second period (just two field goals in 19 possessions) to go up 33-15 by halftime.
Besides the high number of fouls, the Longhorns experienced an anomaly, getting outrebounded 17-7 in that half, something that doesn't suit coach Kelley Snodgrass' game strategy.
"I had three starters with two fouls early and that just takes you out of our game, our aggressive defensive play," she said.
She said they adjusted fairly well, but the fouls stopped the continuity they look for in every game.
Foul trouble forced Holcomb to switch to a zone defense and the Cowgirls were able to grab a number of backside boards, so Snodgrass had to make some halftime adjustments.
It was the third quarter when the real Longhorn team showed up when they hit 9-of-12 field goals and caused seven turnovers with their aggressive, pressing defense, which caused 24 turnovers.
Starting her second game in a row, Taylor Deniston led Holcomb with 14 points (7-of-10 field goals), including four straight in the opening quarter. Kyshia Prieto also hit for 14, and Katie Pfeifer added 13.
Deniston's performance was a highlight, Snodgrass said, especially for someone having to come step into a starting role.
"She's stepped up and played hard. She can create her own shots, and she can take shots from the outside so she's hard to guard," she said.
Megan Siruta led Goodland with 13 points, nine of those in the final period. The Cowgirls connected on just 15-of-44 shots for 34 percent.
Goodland converted on just 16 of its 70 possessions in falling to 0-12 on the season.
Holcomb is now 10-5 (5-2 in the Great West Activities Conference) and will take the next week off.
Goodland 11 4 12 16 -- 43
Holcomb 18 15 18 11 -- 62
Goodland (43) — Bedore 2 0-0 5, Cochran 1 0-0 3, Be. White 3 0-3 8, Br. White 0 3-4 3, Winston 0 0-2 0, Mayer 2 0-0 5, King 2 0-0 4, Siruta 6 2-4 15. Totals 16 5-13 43.
Holcomb (62) — Pfeifer 6 0-0 13, Prieto 5 1-2 14, Mongeau 1 1-2 3, Taylor 2 3-6 7, Deniston 7 0-2 14, Pena 4 1-2 9, Miller 0 0-1 0, Backer 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 6-15 62.
3-point goals — Goodland 6 (Bedore 1, Cochran 1, Be. White 2, Mayer 1, Siruta 1), Holcomb 4 (Pfeifer 1, Prieto 3).
When these two teams played two weeks ago, the Longhorns came out on top, 45-42. They didn't execute very well that night, coach Chad Novack said.
This time the scores were higher, and Holcomb executed the offense better, but the defense was a bit sketchy.
The Longhorns were whistled for 28 fouls, and the Cowboys hit 24-of-39 from the line, but it was a resilient Holcomb team that has won its 10th game in its last 11 that prevailed.
The Longhorns led 20-11 after the first quarter, but they established a rhythm by converting on nine possessions while limiting Goodland to just one field goal in the first six minutes.
Then Goodland scored on its last four possessions, including three times by Taylen Smith, to come back from a 15-3 deficit.
Holcomb only converted three times in the second quarter until there was 1:35 left on the clock, and then they started scoring again, opening up a 45-33 lead late in the third period.
Goodland cut that lead to three to start the final quarter, mostly from the foul line, but that's when the Holcomb streaky magic kicked in, scoring on eight of its last nine possessions.
For Novack, it was a different kind of win, but it was a bit of taking the good with the bad.
"We didn't do a very good of stopping penetration. We kind of got caught reaching too much tonight," he said. "You'd think that after a quarter of putting them on the line, we'd figure that out, but evidently we didn't."
Holcomb was called for 28 fouls, 15 of those in the first half, affecting many of its starters.
Novack said the Longhorns didn't adjust very well throughout the game, but at least they got the offense working for a large enough portion of the game.
Shane Bennett played big for the Longhorns, scoring 22 points, all but two of those from floor.
"We knew we had an advantage down low, and Shane did a great job," Novack said. "It's a credit to our posts and our guards getting him the ball."
Holcomb outrebounded Goodland 37-27, which helped the Longhorns when they were struggling.
"We attacked the rim with our posts, and when we got those stretches to get the lead, we played good defense," Novack said.
Now 10-1 since their 0-4 start (6-1 in league), the Longhorns are enjoying a successful run, Novack said. But they still have to find ways to put away the big leads they build early.
"Good quality ball clubs put teams away early in those situations. We still haven't found that killer instinct yet," he said.
With a week off, he hopes to work on some things to get them that there.
Goodland (3-10, 0-5) was led in scoring by Ryan Hillmer with 19 points (10 from the line), and Smith with 11.
Goodland 11 15 14 12 — 52
Holcomb 20 13 12 21 — 66
Goodland — Gage Ihrig 0 3-4 3, Gannon Ihrig 0 4-4 7, Hillmer 3 10-14 19, Bellamy 1 3-7 5, Luther 2 1-2 5, Helton 1 0-0 2, Smith 4 3-8 11. Totals 17 24-39 52. Totals 17 24-39 52.
Holcomb — Cox 0 2-2 2, LaSalle 3 3-4 12, Hernandez 3 0-0 6, Homer 2 1-3 5, Tucker 3 0-1 7, Gilbert 1 2-2 4, Thomas 2 0-1 7, Bennett 10 2-3 22, Ramsey 1 0-2 2. Totals 27 10-18 66.
3-point goals--Goodland 2 (Gannon Ihrig 1, Hillmer 1), Holcomb 2 (LaSalle 1, Thomas 1).