HOLCOMB — After winning their first two games of the season in fairly dominant fashion, the Holcomb Longhorn boys were both eager and anxious about Friday's foe, Wichita Trinity, which handed Garden City a 57-15 loss the night before.
Unfortunately, the Knights look to be on a crusade in the Clarion Inn Roundball Classic as they took out the 'Horns in a big way, 56-37, a crushing loss for the defending Class 4A-II state champs, the same class in which Trinity competes.
Trinity, which led 14-6 after the first quarter, stretched the lead to 33-18 by halftime. Their largest lead of the night was 23 midway through the third.
It isn't hard to see where Holcomb's game went wrong.
Holcomb, which tries to limit its turnovers to nine a game, had 24 (Trinity had 18).
Holcomb managed just 12 field goals on 47 attempts (25 percent), and they were just 5 of 20 behind the arc.
They were only 50 percent from the line (8 of 16).
And nobody scored in double figures. Carter Blackburn led with nine points off the bench. Trey Gilbert had eight. Kobe Dickson, 6-9 post, had just one point before fouling out.
Trinity, meanwhile, was 18 of 47 from the floor, 7 of 16 behind the arc, and 13 of 16 from the line as they had much of the game go their way.
Caden Williams had 22 points for Trinity. Jacob Baker had 14 and Blessing Ekeshili had 12, including two dunks near the end of the game.
An unlucky combination of sub-par play against a good team was not what coach Chad Novack was expecting, but he took it in stride.
"We knew they were good," he said. "They're very athletic. They have a high basketball IQ. They do such a good job defensively being active in their zone and anticipating."
Offensively, Trinity shoots the ball very well inside and out, he added.
"We wanted to try to make them a mid-range team," Novack said. "First half we didn't do so well. Second half we held them scoreless for a period of seven minutes."
He was referencing a stretch from four minutes into the third quarter to three minutes into the fourth when the Knights went 11 straight possessions without a score. Trailing 44-22 at the time, Holcomb's defense stepped up but the offense sputtered.
The 'Horns managed just four points in that same stretch, a pair of free throws and a Carter Blackburn bucket to end the quarter.
"We held them scoreless for seven minutes, but we couldn't capitalize on the other end," Novack said.
That was it in a microcosm, he explained.
"It's going to be hard to beat a team when you have 24 turnovers, can't make free throws and we don't shoot well from the field," he said.
Trinity was able to dictate much of the action and Holcomb wasn't as aggressive as they needed to be, Novack said.
Taking something from the loss, Novack pointed out his team has had just seven practices and three games.
"We talked about it in the locker room. A loss can be a good thing if we learn from it," he said. "Basketball is a marathon, not a sprint. A loss in December isn't going to dictate our outcome come March."
Holcomb (2-1) will take on a tough Wichita Collegiate team in the penultimate game of Saturdays play at Garden City High School, which will start at approximately 6 p.m.