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Bolden Drops 40 as Holmes Holds Off Scott in High Scoring Affair

Prior to this game, Holmes’ high-point mark on the season was 93 against... yes, Scott, in a championship-clinching win in the Lloyd Memorial Tournament on December 30. Now the calendar has turned to 2015 and the Bulldogs have outdone themselves against the same opponent, outlasting the Eagles 96-92, Tuesday night in Taylor Mill on the strength of a career-best 40 points by senior standout guard James Bolden.
 
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 15-8 lead early in the opening quarter, forcing Scott to call a timeout in hopes of settling things down. Out of the 30-second break, the Eagles maintained Holmes’s pace and ended with an early 18-17 lead at the conclusion of the first. 
 
Holmes tried to pull away from the Eagles in the second but Scott wouldn’t flinch despite Bolden’s 26 points, including four threes. Junior Andrew Trame hit a key three to pull Scott within two, 45-43, with 27 seconds remaining in the half and added two free throws after being fouled driving for a layup to tie the score 45-45 at the break.
 
“I’m really pleased with the way our kids responded when we got down by eight or nine,” Holmes head coach Mike Listerman said. “We kept our composure and we just kept playing and we got a couple buckets, we tightened up a little bit defensively and guarded a little bit better during that stretch there when we made the run. Then we caught them and it was back to being back-and-forth.”
 
During the third, Scott took advantage of several Holmes misfires, including a rare Bolden miss, to take a 51-48 lead halfway through the quarter and a six-point advantage going into the final period, 66-60. 
 
Holmes saved their best for last in the fourth.
 
In the double-bonus for much of the quarter, the Bulldogs capitalized on key free throws by seniors Andrew Arnold, Rod Avery and junior Markel McClendon. With the score tied at 83, Bolden was fouled driving to the basket and hit two shots to put his team up by the same margin. Following a Scott three, the Bulldogs’ countered with solid shooting at the line after being fouled on the other end of the floor, ultimately putting itself up by one, 89-88. 
 
With 1:30 left in the game, an Eagles errant pass enabled Holmes to possess the basketball until they were fouled, enabling the clock to tick away on Scott’s hopes for a comeback. Once again, Avery stepped to the line and hit consecutive free throws to put the Bulldogs up 95-92, with 24 seconds remaining. 
 
Eagles senior Darian Witherspoon missed what would’ve been an open game-tying three pointer with 10 seconds left, sealing a wild Holmes win, 96-92, as the Bulldogs added an additional free throw.
 
 
The biggest difference-maker in the game? Offensive rebounds, according to Listerman. “We had 17 offensive rebounds and because of that, we wound up with a few more shots and stuck them in,” he said. “It was huge tonight, the rebounding,” the coach added, in addition to their depth off the bench, with key minutes attributed to Raavai Commodore, Brennon Englemon, Jordan Daniels, Brandon Moore and Andrew Arnold.
 
And Bolden? “Beetle had one of the greatest nights I’ve ever seen a high school player have...He’s so efficient. He’s just a special type of player and right now, he’s really on his game,” Listerman said.
 
Story & photos by Jason Finnell, RCN contributor