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Holmes Downs Holy Cross for 9th Straight Win, Moeller Edges Cov Cath

Holmes 89, Holy Cross 71

Holmes extended its win streak to nine games after beating Holy Cross at home, 89-71, on Tuesday. The Bulldogs had another confident shooting performance and have really hit their stride mid-season, now 13-3 on the year.

The three-point shooting for Holmes was especially good with senior guard James Bolden knocking down six of his nine attempts, many of which were a direct response from a Holy Cross three-pointer. Bolden finished with 21 points despite making only a single two-point basket on the evening. Head coach Mike Listerman said it had taken some time for Bolden to get his shooting down on a consistent basis, but there's no question that the scoring-star is shooting the ball confidently now. In the fourth quarter, he dazzled the spectators with some fancy dribbling on the break as he found open cutters to the rim for nice passes on his way to four assists in the game.

Fellow guard Markel McClendon is also stroking the ball from the outside these days. McClendon had another nice night filling into his role as the complimentary scorer to Bolden and finishing with 16 points including a pair of threes. Throw in another junior guard Mark Mullins as a player who can also put up points—leading the Bulldogs with 23 points on Tuesday—and you have an explosive team that can run with anyone. These three guards have calmed the anxiety the Bulldogs coaching staff may have felt earlier in the season and have seemingly improved in each game of this winning streak.

For as well as Holmes shot, though, it was Holy Cross that needed a more quality percentage of makes on the night. The Indians are a team of set shooters with very little scoring options in the paint, especially against bigger teams, so when dry spells do occur, it's often too much of a burden for them to make a comeback against. They didn't shoot poorly on Tuesday, but they simply didn't have the offensive firepower or the stamina to hang with the Bulldogs.

They also didn't have a response for the tall forward Rod Avery who quietly did his work inside, finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds. His quick leaping ability and length continues to give the opposition headaches as he has become a consistent scoring threat especially in transition. Avery displays good spacial awareness and excellent timing on his shot blocking and offensive rebounding. He is an interesting prospect and should prove to be a key player in the Ninth Region for the rest of the way. He also made eight of his 10 free-throw attempts.

Holy Cross realized right away that they would need to play a near-flawless game to get out of there with a win. They started off okay with junior forward Tyler Bezold knocking down some deep threes and finishes with his left hand, and then Jared Seibert made a pair of three-pointers and eventually arguably their best shooter Erich Jakubowski found his stroke from downtown making four from beyond the arc, but the problem was that when one would heat up, the other would cool down resulting in a decent Holy Cross effort when they needed a great one.

It's a good thing for Holmes that they're establishing their team identity now because the second half of their schedule looks formidable. On Wednesday night, they travel to Newport to take on another natural scorer, sophomore Ethan Snapp, and on Friday they play Cooper at The Bank of Kentucky Center as part of the Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity Classic. Then, the following week, the going gets even tougher with matchups against Mason County, their old nemesis Covington Catholic, and the top-ranked team in the state, Trinity (Lou.).

Holy Cross drops to 8-9 and will next play Ludlow on January 19.

Moeller (Cin.) 61, Covington Catholic 52

In a slug-it-out-game for both teams, Cov Cath lost a low-scoring battle across the river on Tuesday night, 61-52, to Moeller. CCH had a hard time finding anything as only four different Colonels even took a shot in the game. Senior forward Bo Schuh was the only exception, swishing three of his four shots from deep and finishing with 14 points, but sophomore guard Cole VonHandorf went 0-5 from three-point range, which is not a typical evening for the emerging star.

The Cov Cath defense was solid in the second and third quarters as they held the Crusaders to just 19 combined points, but the defensive cracks widened enough in the fourth to allow 23 points in the period and put the game out of reach.

The loss for the Colonels is especially painful after also losing to Moeller in football this past season.  

Covington Catholic (11-4) completes its three-game stretch of Cincinnati teams where it won two of three. Next up for the second-ranked Colonels in the RCN/NKYSports.com poll is first-ranked Newport Central Catholic in the night-cap of the Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity Classic at The Bank of Kentucky Center on Friday at 8:30.

Bryan Burke, associate editor