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With Wins, Scott & Holmes Will Meet in Lloyd Tournament Final

Lloyd Memorial Invitational Tournament (Semifinals)

It was a star-studded affair at the Lloyd Memorial Invitational Tournament on Monday night as stellar individual performances from the tournament's top players were on display in the last two games of the day.

Holmes 78, Conner 70

Holmes (8-3) won its fourth game in a row as the Bulldogs took out Conner 78-70 to advance to the championship game Tuesday night at 8 against Scott. The advantage was won in transition as Holmes showed off its quickness with easy points on the run and pesky defense that lead to turnovers to allow such a quick pace.

“I know that when we can play up-tempo that we're a better basketball team, so that means broken plays, rebounding and pushing it out, whatever the case in getting turnovers,” Holmes coach Mike Listerman said.

Holmes raced out to an early lead, thanks in large part to senior guard James “Beetle” Bolden shooting perfectly on all four of his first half three-point shot attempts. Bolden led the game at halftime with 12 points and shared the team lead on the evening with 19 in the game. When he wasn't running around without the ball and finding himself comfortable openings in the Cougars' defense, Bolden displayed his excellent open-court presence with sweet dishes underneath in transition, most of which were received by senior big man Rod Avery, who played a clean first half with 10 points including a dunk in the post from a nice Bolden pass. Avery finished 18 himself and also had nine rebounds and four blocks.

While Bolden gets most of the attention, Avery is an ideal big man for a team that wins games in the open court. He's long and lean and can get pushed around in the trenches if it becomes that kind of a game, but he learned from graduated seniors Quinton Chames and Marcus Hill on how to beat the opposition down the court with speed. Unlike those guys, though, Avery has a keener ball-handling sense and is a very fluid player. At times in transition, he looks more like a guard in a forwards body, but because he is the team's tallest player, he plays in the front court.

Conner (6-4), though, was not star-struck by Bolden and his moves or Avery and his leaping ability. Guard Michael Scott took the ball easily to the rim with his left hand at various points in the first half, scoring too easily for Bulldogs head coach Mike Listerman on too many occasions.

He and front-court player, Spencer Hemmerich, kept Conner in contention, as Hemmerich showed a host of moves down low and seemed to be in control on each shot, even though on many of his attempts came with contact. Hemmerich scored an efficient game-high 25 points and kept the Cougars in the game after a brutal Conner third quarter.

An advantage Holmes found early though, was the quality decision making that forward Andrew Arnold showed when catching the ball near the free-throw line. He had moments of good passing from big to big as he found Rod Avery on the baseline for two easy buckets against the Conner zone. He makes mistakes inbounding the ball and has tendencies to foul, but plays smart inside the paint on offense.

After halftime, the Bulldogs turned on the full-court pressure and Conner did not respond well to the increase of defensive havoc. Too many turnovers unfolded in the third quarter that allowed Holmes to get out and run themselves into a healthy lead. Even when Conner did get decent inside looks after beating the press, they missed often, perhaps bothered by the pace alone. By the end of the third, it was 57-41 and looked all but over.

“A little bit there in the third quarter, we went after Scott and tried to deny him the basketball and I thought that started to interrupt their flow offensively,” Listerman said. “Once we did that, we got a little burst and we already had the lead, so now we added seven or eight more.”

Junior guards Markel McClendon and Marcus Mullins were recipients to some transition twos and threes during the third-quarter stretch and each finished in double figures with Mullins scoring 19 and McClendon finishing with 11.

Conner didn't give up, and played a good fourth quarter scoring 29 points in the period, but their eight point defeat is not as close as the score indicates. Holmes missed some late field goals and Hemmerich kept converting on shots while being fouled and the Cougars hovered around 10 down the stretch, but the win was a pronounced one for Holmes who seems to be fitting into their identity of a run-and-gun team.

Scott 87, Stewarts Creek 80

Scott guard Jake Ohmer dazzled the crowd on hand as he finished with a game for the ages scoring a school-record 51 points, not to mention also totaling 19 rebounds and eight assists, in a gritty 87-80 win over Stewarts Creek (TN). Only a sophomore, Ohmer broke the record he set last season when he scored 42 points as a freshman.

His performance was astounding, but the win it helped produce was almost as impressive. It looked bleak out of the gates for the Eagles, as they struggled to find a bearing on the flow of the game. Scott relies heavily on good outside shooting and when that isn't the case, they can fall behind quickly. Such was the case on Monday night as the Eagles were cold in the first quarter, falling behind 17-2 and looking out of sorts.

Stewart Creek's Jy'Lan Washington is a 6'7'' player with the speed and grace of a much smaller person. He immediately established his presence in the game, primarily as a shot-blocker and rim protector as he swatted a number of shots and made even more difficult to get a good look against. He also glided his way to the rim off of the dribble and looked like he was going to be a major handful for the Eagles to handle.

Scott head coach Brad Carr implored his team to be less passive and simply play their kind of game.

“I have no idea why you all are so scared,” he told his team from the bench.

They must have simply needed it pointed out to them because down 22-12 in the first quarter, Ohmer really started heating up with a variety of moves. He is a pure outside shooter, but he is deceptively effective taking the ball to the hole for sneaky layups or simply pulling up for mid-range floaters. He's not very big or lightning fast, but he stays in control at all times and has a true scorer's mentality.

Even though Scott was still down at halftime, they were certainly no longer scared after a 24-point second quarter. Once the action got going again, Andrew Trame hit a pair of threes from the corner, followed by Ohmer taking a charge and nailing a long three of his own, the Eagles suddenly had a 47-42 lead midway through the third-quarter and all the momentum they needed to coast the night out to a victory.

Every time Stewarts Creek made some noise, Ohmer would match them. He had a nice hesitation move on the baseline for the basket and the foul. He had five three-pointers on the night. He had put backs off the offensive glass. Any type of scoring play the Eagles needed—aside from a dunk—Ohmer delivered.

The Redhawks, though, had one more hurrah left in them down the stretch when Cameron Marsh hid two three-pointers of his own inside of two minutes to make it a one-possession game. But Ohmer made three of his last four free-throws to ice the game in its late stages and seal up a hard-earned win and a tremendous individual performance.

Scott will play Holmes in the championship of the Lloyd Memorial Invitational Tournament on Tuesday night at 8.

In other games:

Campbell County 62, Amelia (OH) 59

Campbell County improves to 9-2 on the season.

Newport 60, Walton Verona 48

Newport is now 6-6 and Walton-Verona is also 6-6

Covington Catholic 48, Louisville Central 45

Top Scorers: CC – Schuh 18, VonHandorf 15; LC – Thompson 17, Johnson 14

Covington Catholic is 7-3 on the season.

-Story & photos by Bryan Burke, associate editor