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Late Run Pushes Holmes Over Harrison Co., 59-54

Despite sitting the bench in the first quarter, and going scoreless in the second, James “Beetle” Bolden cashed in 19 second-half points and led his team to a tough victory over Harrison County, 59-54.

With Bolden on the bench early on, Harrison County came out hot, knocking down early jumpers and fueling themselves with confidence. Holmes (21-5) wanted a fast-paced game from the get-go and they employed a mixture of full-court presses, full-court man-to-man and half-court traps on defense to speed things up. These defensive looks did lead to turnovers, but the Bulldogs found scoring difficult in the first half and couldn't capitalize on their takeaways.

Harrison County played a 2-3 zone which forced a lot of perimeter passing followed by a mix of wild looks, poor shooting and an abundance of turnovers by the Bulldogs. After a quarter, Quinton Chames had five of the team's seven points and most of those were on put-backs and tip-ins. In the second, Holmes started to see an advantage on the glass as big men Chames and Marcus Hill had numerous second-chance opportunities and proved to be simply quicker leapers than their opposition. Chames. in particular. is like a pogo-stick with a box haircut. He is raw in skill, but his length and pronounced athleticism were exemplified in this game by a powerful dunk on the break in the second half. Both players provide a heavy shot-blocking presence inside as well.

The front-court advantage Holmes was able to put together, however, was still not enough to produce any consistency on offense and the teams went into the locker room at the half with a paltry, 20-14 Harrison County lead.

Holmes came out with more intensity in the second half, especially while harassing ball carriers. Harrison County continued to turn the ball over after coughing it up eight times in the first half. This intensity did come at a cost, though, as there were multiple fouls called on Holmes far from the basket. Markel McClendon found the bench after committing four fouls in two and a half quarters, including a ticky-tack technical foul that coach Jason Booher prominently displayed his displeasure toward.

Once that settled down, James "Beetle" Bolden found the groove of the game, dictated the offensive rhythm and got his team scoring in transition—a proven calling card to the success of the Holmes Bulldogs. He made two momentum-changing three pointers in the third quarter and helped his team close it out on an 11-2 run and gain the lead for the first time in the game.

The fourth quarter played out in similar fashion, as Bolden's control and tempo allowed for his teammates to reclaim their traditional roles and the group seemed like themselves again. The Thoroughbreds fought valiantly throughout, masking their athletic deficiencies with decent shooting and a sound 2-3 zone. Guard D.J. Jenkins decided to take over down the stretch in the fourth for Harrison County, and he aggressively attacked the rim, earning himself easy buckets and repeated trips to the free-throw line. With under two minutes left and down by one, though, Jenkins went out of control on a drive to the hoop and lost the ball. Marcus Hill grabbed it and that moment proved to be the game's difference. Still, thanks to Jenkins' energetic outburst late in the game, he finished with 18 second-half points and kept his team competitive until the end.

Bolden sank his four free-throws in the waning minutes to keep enough distance for the Bulldogs to win a game marred with double-digit turnovers and fouls by both teams, but a win nonetheless. Holmes has three games left in their regular season, the next being at Conner High School on Tuesday night at 7:30 where they hope to keep their momentum heading into tournament play.

Story by Bryan Burke

Photos by Brian Frey