HOLCOMB — Homecoming night at Holcomb was more than the traditional crowning-type game.
It was a return to a home court on which the Longhorns have played just twice now in 52 days.
After a fast start, Holcomb found itself in a battle with Goodland, but they proved why they are the current No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A-II, getting a 63-47 win Friday night.
It wasn’t as easy as it looked on the scoreboard as Holcomb improved to 16-1 and remained perfect in the Great West Activities Conference.
Holcomb started out sizzling with a 10-0 start that spread to 15-2 at the 4:25 mark, a spurt that included three Devin Mader 3’s and one by Kobe Dickson.
And then nothing for almost four minutes when Carter Blackburn put back a missed free throw, followed by a Paden Cornelsen bucket at the buzzer, giving Holcomb a 19-8 quarter lead.
After going up 23-12 early in the second, Holcomb fell on hard times as they watched Goodland claw back as they had their way on both sides of the boards.
They pulled to within 28-24 following a 12-5 run to the 2:00 mark, but the only scoring after that was a Holcomb free throw for a 29-24 halftime lead.
The 'Horns regathered in the third, outscoring the Cowboys 16-9, holding Goodland to a pair of threes from the field while Holcomb went 7 of 13 from the floor.
They came out of intermission with a 7-0 run, an answer to what coach Chad Novack challenged his team to do.
“At halftime we were talking about being more aggressive and getting back to playing more solid defense,” he said.
Two quick goals to start the fourth got Goodland to within eight (45-37) but Kobe Dickson scored on an and-1, followed by a Trey Gilbert three-pointer and a put-back, and Mader’s final field goal.
That gave the home team a 55-42 lead with just over four minutes to play.
Holcomb finished 25 of 49 from the floor (6 of 14 from behind the arc), while Goodland was just 18 of 53.
And while it seemed that Goodland was stronger on the boards (they might have been in the second quarter), Holcomb still won that battle 24-17.
They also had just 11 turnovers to the Cowboys’ 15.
Dickson led the ‘Horns with 18 points. Mader had 13, Blackburn 11 and Gilbert 10.
It might seem like just another day at the office for Holcomb, but it was anything but easy, Novack said.
“It was far from easy,” he said. “Goodland’s a very good ball club. Both teams played pretty darn hard.”
The first three minutes, his team did a great job of moving without the ball, attacking gaps and shooting with confidence, he said.
But when Goodland stepped up the pressure and used its height (three starters ranged from 6- to 7-0), things turned.
“We relaxed (with that quick lead) and that’s when Goodland became the aggressive team and made a run on us,” Novack said. “We’ve just got to learn to, once we build those leads, sustain those and not get complacent.”
That’s what happened in early January in Goodland, when the ‘Horns held a 21-9 lead after a quarter and held double-digit leads at each break after that, winning 63-45.
Dawson Raymer and Wence Hendrich led the Cowboys (10-7, 3-4) with 11 points each.
The win is Holcomb’s 14th in a row this season, as well as its 17th straight against Goodland.
The ‘Horns (16-1, 7-0) will host Scott City on Tuesday and Colby Friday before finishing the regular season in Hugoton.