HOLCOMB — It took the Lady Longhorns a couple of minutes to get in a groove, but once they did they were hard to stop.
Holcomb went to 2-0 on the season with a 66-22 win over Kansas City-Christian Thursday night in Holcomb to open the Clarion Inn Southwest Kansas Classic.
Down 5-4 two minutes into the game, Holcomb went on a 23-0 run to open the gap wide midway into the second period.
Taylor Deniston hit for 15 of her game-high 24 points in the first half to lead the Longhorns’ charge.
The senior guard scored half of those from 3-point range, hitting three in the third period before sitting out the rest of the game.
Jordan Jarnagin added 18 and Eboni Sapien 11 for the Longhorns.
Holcomb held a 34-10 lead at halftime and built that to 59-20 at the end of the third, when the mercy rule took effect.
The Lady ‘Horns took advantage of the Lions’ shaky ball-handling, forcing 26 turnovers while committing just seven of their own.
Even in a blowout, coach Nathan Novack saw much improvement from his girls since their win at Liberal Friday.
“When we had to, we ran our set plays better, for the most part. Our bench was able to get more time in,” he said. “Of the top seven playing, three of them are freshmen. That was a good learning experience with them.”
In the second half, Holcomb worked on being both patient and aggressive on offense, Novack said, taking time to make good passes but also looking to score on a defense that wasn’t playing that aggressive.
“Being able to recognize what kind of pressure you have and making a play from that — they need to learn both,” he said. “When you’re getting overplayed or underplayed, you have to recognize what you can get out of that.”
Holcomb was 27 of 56 from the floor, including hitting six of its 17 3-point attempts.
“That’s not too bad. First half we missed easier shots, but the second half we were able to settle down,” Novack said.
Forcing the 26 turnovers was a plus, too, he said, since they came off of different defensive sets.
Getting his first home win as the first-year Longhorns coach, previously the Ulysses boys’ coach, feels pretty good, Novack said.
“It’s rewarding just to see the girls have fun, being able to be vocal and help each other out,” he said. “I like to see them working as a whole.”
Holcomb will face Pueblo, Colo., East, at home today at 6 p.m., while K.C. Christian will travel to Scott City.
Pueblo defeated Garden City 65-64 in overtime Thursday, and Novack knows his girls are in for a much different game.
“They’re really aggressive, scrappy,” he explained. “And they’re aggressive on both sides of the floor. They like to gamble a lot, and that might be a weakness. It all depends on how we handle it.”
KC Christian (2-6)—Eldred 4 2-8 10, Holst 2 0-0 4, Spencer 4 0-0 8. Totals 10-23 2-8 22.
Holcomb (2-0)—Sapien 5 0-1 11, Deniston 10 0-0 24, Ratliff 1 0-0 3, Engler 2 1-2 5, Jarnagin 7 3-5 18, Sleep 2 1-2 5. Totals 27-56 5-10 66.
KC Christian 5 5 10 2 — 22
Holcomb 17 017 25 7 — 66
3-point goals—KC Christian 0-3, Holcomb 6-17 (Sapien, Deniston 4, Jarnagin). Rebounds—KC Christian 15 (Holst 6, Eldred 4), Holcomb 24 (Jarnagin 6). Personal fouls—KC Christian 12, Holcomb 11. Fouled out—none. Technical fouls—none.