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Holmes Pulls Away from Scott to Win Lloyd Tournament

Holmes completed their championship run at the Lloyd Memorial Invitational Tournament by beating Scott 93-77 in the final game on Tuesday night.

It was the fourth game in four days for both teams and fatigue was a major factor in the second half for Scott, but the Bulldogs still looked as fast and athletic as ever, putting up 52 second-half points and winning their fifth straight game.

The two teams fiercely battled in a competitive first half with the Eagles gaining a two-point halftime lead after Jake Ohmer scored on a layup before the buzzer. Defense was spotty for both teams as players found room in the paint off of the dribble getting to the rim early and often.

“When they went down the lane like it was I-75 at two in the morning and nobody standing around, I wasn't real happy,” Holmes head coach Mike Listerman said about his team's first half defense. “I think by and large, though, we're getting there defensively and we're getting there offensively.”

Both teams shot the ball well thanks to that kind of defense in the first two quarters and each effectively played their style of game. The complexion of the game changed quickly when Holmes center Rod Avery picked up two cheap fouls in the opening quarter. With him on the bench in foul trouble, the tag-team of high-effort forwards Andrew Arnold and Jason Covington were asked to do even more of the dirty work inside. While this slowed the Bulldogs' pace some, each performed their responsibility well. Arnold again showed a nice passing ability while in the paint, and scored on put backs and clean ups around the rim.

Scott did not shy away from an up-tempo game, though, and found that the quickened pace opened up looks on the parameter for them. Forward Darian Witherspoon created mismatch problems for the Bulldogs as he knocked down threes from the outside and played well for his size underneath. He finished the half with seven meaningful points.

Also key early for Eagles was Andrew Trame and his three-point shooting, finishing the first quarter with seven points and the game with 14. Those threes, along with Witherspoon and Vinny Duimlao kept the score and confidence high enough to be optimistic of the second half.

The Eagles headed to the locker room with a 43-41 halftime lead, had shot the ball well and hadn't gone through rough patches of a bunch of turnovers.

Last night's hero, Jake Ohmer, was not the superstar he was on Monday when he netted 51 points and along with his teammates, he struggled mightily in the second half. To his credit, he finished with 24 points on the game, but shot 4-16 on the night and wore down with the rest of the Eagles.

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, improved their play as time went on. There were stretches in the first half that saw very little sharing of the basketball for Holmes, but as the pace remained high, senior guard James Bolden looked to pass first more and it opened up scoring opportunities for junior guards Markel McClendon and Marcus Mullins.

“I think our shot selection has been so much better,” Listerman said. “McClendon and Mullins in particular, they're just making great choices right now.”

Throughout the Lloyd Invitational, both players looked to have grown more into their roles on the team and really look confident when dribble penetrating. Freshman guard Raavi Commodore also appears ready and capable to provide good minutes on this level.

Thanks to this aggressive offensive guard play, mixed with the length and quick leaping ability of Rod Avery, Scott got tired and lost focus, resulting in a poor shooting quarter that simply cannot happen to beat competition like Holmes. Last night's spirited effort by the Eagles very likely could have effected their legs down the stretch in this game, but either way, a 26-13 third-quarter advantage was all the Bulldogs needed to walk out of the gym as champs.

“Beetle has found his stroke and that's another big thing,” said Coach Listerman. “Since the King of the Bluegrass tournament, his shooting has really come around and his overall leadership has too."

With Bolden setting him up, McClendon continued to knock down big shots in the fourth as he ended up with 20 points and was 4-5 from behind the arc. The junior looks to be more of a sure shot from outside than he was a year ago. Mullins finished with 19 while Bolden settled for 12, but it was Avery who led the team with 21 and was perfect on his eight shots from the field. His ally-oop dunk from Bolden on a break late in the game was especially impressive. Not a bad outing for being strapped to the bench in the first half with foul trouble.

Scott guard Blake Schneider deserves mentioned after turning in a gritty effort with 21 points and some tough defense in the loss.

Markel McClendon was named tournament MVP.  

Holmes is off until Saturday where they will play Muhlenberg County in the First Security New Year's Bash, then take on Scott again in Taylor Mill on January 6.

Covington Catholic 73, Henry Clay (Lex.) 58

Covington Catholic sophomore guard Cole VonHandorf scored 14 second half points to power the Colonels over Henry Clay, 73-58, at the Republic Bank Classic at Lexington Catholic.

The Colonels were down by two points at halftime, but thanks to VonHandorf and another strong game from senior forward Bo Schuh who scored 20 points and nine rebounds, Cov Cath earned their eighth win of the season. Point guard Cooper Theobald continues to have a great season for the Colonels as he finished with 16 points, including making eight of ten free throws in the win.

CCH put the defensive clamps on Henry Clay, forcing them to shoot only 32 percent from the field in the second half and totalled 26 points after halftime. Cov Cath (8-3) has won three games in a row and is 3-2 on their five-game Lexington road trip. They come back to the Northern Kentucky where they travel to play Highlands on Friday night.  

-Story & photos by Bryan Burke, associate editor

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