HOLCOMB Facing 5A Liberal in Friday night's season opener, Holcomb girls' coach Kenton Tennal gives his Lady Longhorns a decent grade in defeating the Lady Redskins 71-47.

Taylor Deniston scored 28 points in leading her team to the win, while Haley Heydman had 16 and Jordan Jarnagin 15.

Holcomb used strong opening and closing quarters to put Liberal away with a good 'A' game, but it was some inconsistency in the middle quarters that lowered that to 'B' in the end, Tennal said.

After Liberal scored on its first possession, Holcomb went on a 16-2 run, but led just 21-11 as the Lady Redskins hit a pair of threes down the stretch.

Taylor Deniston hit a shot from the other side of the half-court line at the buzzer to end the quarter with 13 points.

Haley Heydman, who sat most of the first quarter with foul trouble, hit the first five points of the second quarter to give the Longhorns a 27-11 lead.

Then the foul fest began and a slowed quarter saw Liberal pull to within six at 30-24 with 2:19 remaining in the half, but they never scored again.

Holcomb closed out the half on a 7-0 run, five of those by Jordan Jarnagin.

In the first half, Holcomb held Liberal to 24 percent shooting (6 of 25, 3 of 13 from three-point range), and forced 14 turnovers.

Holcomb, meanwhile, was 11 of 26 from the floor (4 of 7 from three-point), but were out-rebounded 18-10 to keep the game fairly close.

Holcomb pulled out to a 54-38 lead at the next quarter break despite Jai Chapman's 12 points and Liberal's 13 boards.

In the final period, Deniston hit for 11 of Holcomb's 17 points, the defense held Liberal to just nine points and the Longhorns had their first win wrapped up.

Holcomb held Liberal to just 16 field goals on 52 attempts, and just 4 of 21 from long range as the Longhorn defense bottled up the inside.

"They did well," Tennal said of his team's defense. "We even had some younger girls stepping up and playing good defense inside. We did pretty good with our man (defense), keeping the ball from getting inside, and our zone we obviously did, as well."

That defensive pressure forced the ball out of the middle, led to some tipped passes, and resulted in 31 Redskins' turnovers.

About the only areas in which Holcomb was deficient was free throws (they made 18 of 30) and rebounds (they lost that battle 38-18).

Deniston's performance is not surprising, Tennal said.

"I tell her all the time she's the best point guard in the state," he said of the 5-foot-4 junior.

They passed their first test, but next week's three-game Roundball Classic will be huge.

Denver South will be athletic. Pueblo East will be very good. Hutch Trinity will be worrisome. But Tennal is confident his team will come ready to play.

"It's going to be a fun weekend," he said. "We live for this."


Liberal 11 13 14 9 -- 47

Holcomb 21 16 17 17 -- 71


Chapman 6 2-2 14, Hernandez 0 0-2 0, Limon 1 2-2 4, Ramirez 0 3-4 3, Nunez 1 2-3 5, Besecker 2 0-0 6, Long 2 0-0 4, Shelton 2 0-0 5, Mickens 2 2-2 6. Totals 16-52 11-15 47.


Ratliff 2 0-2 4, Jarnagin 5 4-7 15, Engler 0 2-4 2, Heydman 7 1-4 16, Deniston 8 10-13 28, Amos 1 1-2 4, Harrington 1 0-0 2. Totals 24-51 18-30 71.

3-point field goals--Liberal: 4-21 (Nunez, Shelton, Besecker 2); Holcomb: 514 (Jarnagin, Heydman, Amos, Deniston 2). Rebounds--Liberal: 38 (Chapman 10, Long 10, Mickens 10) ; Holcomb: 18 (Jarnagin 7, Heydman 5). Turnovers--Liberal: 31; Holcomb: 15. Fouls--Liberal: 28; Holcomb: 15. Fouled out: Liberal (Chapman), Holcomb (Amos).