HOLCOMB — “Efficient.” That’s how Holcomb coach Chad Novack described his team’s 68-49 win over Palmer Ridge, Colo., in the opening round of the Clarion Inn Roundball Classic Thursday.

Following last Friday’s loss at Liberal, the Holcomb Longhorns bounced back in a big way, using a solid second quarter to put distance between themselves and the Bears at halftime. The ‘Horns turned a 16-15 lead after the first break into a 39-30 lead at halftime, then followed that with a strong second half to get the win.

The Bears closed to within nine at 55-46 in the fourth, but the ‘Horns used a 13-2 run to pull away at the end.

Damon Kepley led Holcomb with 19 points, with Jackson Stoppel adding 12.

Kobe Hands and Zion Mason both added nine points, and Zephyr Mason had eight.

Holcomb shot 22 of 41 from the floor, including a red-hot 8 of 13 from 3-point range and 16 of 18 from the line.

The defense limited the Bears to 16 of 35 from the floor (5 of 14 from behind the arc).

With no starters returning from last year’s state runner-up team, Novack was looking for leadership and poise from his players.

He got that with four solid quarters from a group of relative unknowns.

“I thought our kids were efficient,” Novack said. “We always talk about that, to be successful in basketball, you have to do the little things right. You’ve got to take care of the ball, rebound, play defense.”

In last Friday’s loss, he said, his team did those things, but for only three quarters. It cost them the game.

“Tonight, we really touched up on those things. Going 16 of 18 is obviously great from the free-throw line,” Novack said.

They also committed just 12 turnovers, another team goal met, he added.

River Amos led Holcomb with nine rebounds and Stoppel had seven as the ‘Horns won the board battle 30-16.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys. They’ve been working their tails off in practice on these little things,” Novack said.

The 3-point barrage also helped a group that had no starting lineup experience.

“For them to come in here and shoot with that type of confidence says a lot about how much work they put in this summer,” Novack said.

Holcomb will face Dalhart, Texas, tonight and Garden City Saturday. Thursday’s win will go a long way in the confidence department, Novack said.