by KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — After Tuesday night's loss to league rival Ulysses in which Holcomb gave up a fourth-quarter lead, coach Scott Stegman was looking for something positive.
Then Logan Singhisen, his senior post player, called in sick, leaving the Longhorns shorthanded — and shorter — against Goodland Friday night.
And while it was not pretty, it turned into a 53-51 win over another league opponent, just what the doctor ordered.
Holcomb overcame 31 fouls, 19 turnovers, and some odd lineups to outlast the Cowboys in Great Western Activities Conference play, giving the Longhorns a much-needed lift going into next week's mid-season tournament.
Holcomb took its final lead in this seesaw game in the fourth quarter at the 4:12 mark, 44-40 on Brendan Thomas' basket off a steal. Another steal by Tyler LaSalle, who hit Nolan Gaede for a layup, kept the lead at four, 48-44.
Two free throws by LaSalle, and one by Andrew Homer got them up, 51-46 with half a minute to play.
Then the Cowboys Ryan Hillmer hit a three but were forced to foul with :18 left on the clock.
Kyle Walck bounced in the first of two free throws for dramatic effect, then swished the second giving Holcomb a 53-51 lead.
After Goodland missed a three, Holcomb got the rebound but was called for traveling.
Reed Bellamy hit a layup with :03 remaining, and Goodland called time out, down by two.
At the Goodland baseline, Holcomb fumbled the inbounds pass and turned it over with just under two seconds left.
Hillmer got the inbounds pass back for a three from the corner at the buzzer, but it bounced off the rim, and somehow the smaller, younger Longhorns had the win.
Stegman said that this win says a lot about his team in the face of adversity.
"We had some kids step up the first half. We had every starter except for one sitting on the bench with two fouls and we had a whole bunch of sophomores in there doing some good things," he said, especially hitting free throws under pressure.
"At the end of the game I commended each one of them. Those are the kinds of things you want to see as a coach. I'm very proud of those kids for doing that," Stegman said.
The game started off well for the Longhorns as six different players scored to give them 13-7 lead at the 1:35 mark in the opening quarter. But they also turned it over seven times that quarter and picked up 11 fouls, including a technical on Stegman.
But Goodland only managed to hit 3-of-8 free throws during that stretch and still trailed 13-10 at the close of the quarter.
Unfortunately, Holcomb went the next seven minutes before hitting its first field goal of the quarter, a three by Walck. Fortunately, Goodland shot poorly — just 3-for-12 — and Holcomb actually increased its lead to 24-19 by halftime.
Both teams were hot and cold in the third. After Goodland took a 32-30 lead on Dillon Trachsel's three, Holcomb closed the quarter with an 8-0 run, including two field goals by Walck.
Holcomb led 38-32 at the quarter break, leading to the wild finish.
Sophomores Shane Bennett and Max Ramsey took up the slack for Singhisen inside, While only scoring five combined points, they picked up five boards but, more importantly, were able to disrupt Goodland's taller post game. Most notably, Robert Cowan only hit five of his 15 shots.
"They had some big kids and a hot club," Stegman said of Goodland. Eventually his Longhorns, however, found a way around that, by taking the ball right at them and to the basket.
"You've got to take it in strong, get on the free throw line and make your free throws," Stegman said, as he saw the Longhorns hit 5-of-7 in the final quarter.
Walck led nine Holcomb scorers with 11 points, and Gaede added 10.
Cowan led Goodland (3-4) with 14 points, and Hillmer added 12. The Cowboys were only 19-of-50 from the floor, and they mised 13 free throws, which proved costly.
Holcomb (6-4, 2-1) hopes to be at full strength next week when they travel to Colby for the Orange and Black tournament, facing McCook on Thursday, coached by former Holcomb player Tim Garcia.
Goodland 10 9 13 19 -- 51
Holcomb 13 11 14 15 -- 53
Goodland — Deeds 0 0-2 0, Hillmer 4 2-2 12, Bellamy 4 1-2 9, Luther 1 1-2 4, Wilkes 3 0-0 6, Trachsel 1 0-2 3, Helton 1 1-2 3, Cowan 5 4-10 14. Totals 19 9-22 51.
Holcomb — LaSalle 1 6-7 8, Hernandez 1 0-0 2, Homer 4 1-4 9, Gaede 5 0-0 10, Walck 4 2-3 11, Thomas 3 0-0 7, Tucker 0 1-3 1, Bennett 1 0-0 2, Ramsey 0 3-4 3. Totals 19 13-21 53.
3-pt. goals — Goodland 4-14 (Hillmer 2, Luther 1, Trachsel 1), Holcomb 2-4 (Walck 1, Thomas 1). Rebounds — Goodland 30 (Cowen 5), Holcomb 29 (Homer 6). Turnovers — Goodland 20, Holcomb 22.