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Holmes Holds Off Dixie in Battle of Top 5 Teams

Coming into their matchup Wednesday night, Holmes and Dixie were widely regarded as the third and fourth-ranked teams in the 9th region. The question was, who belonged in which spot?
Holmes answered that question by holding on to beat Dixie Heights on the road by a final score of 70-63. With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 19-5 on the season. The loss drops Dixie's season record to 17-6. 
Holmes spotted Dixie nine early points, falling behind 9-0 in the first three minutes of the game. At that point, senior forward Rod Avery checked into the game for the first time. 
His length and presence in the paint provided the immediate impact Holmes needed to match the Colonels’ size. Avery bolstered the paint all night for Holmes, finishing with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
“We were able to make some adjustments after falling behind early,” said Holmes head coach Mike Listerman. “It certainly wasn’t ideal to dig ourselves that hole, but we 
made adjustments to compensate for Dixie’s size and length, especially after halftime.”
James Bolden led Holmes in scoring with 21 points. After missing his first three shots early, Bolden converted his next six field goal attempts, heading to the locker room with 16 first-half points. Holmes led 36-31 at halftime. 
Junior guard Markel McClendon shook off a quiet first half, netting 16 second-half points for a total of 19 for the game. His 6th point of the night marked the 1,000th of his impressive career at Holmes High School. 
“Markel stepped up in the second half for us. He and Beetle [Bolden] have been our one-two punch all year. It’s a luxury to have two guards of their skill level that we can rely on,” said Coach Listerman. 
McClendon’s big second half helped keep the Colonels’ scrappy comeback effort at bay. Holmes’ lead never grew to larger than seven points in the fourth quarter. Dixie had several chances to close the gap to a one-possession game, but failed to convert each time. 
Dixie Heights pulled down 16 offensive rebounds on the night, including five for Bolin and four for Schreck. Holmes’ eight steals, however, proved to be the difference in the game. Dixie’s guards struggled with the Bulldogs’ full-court pressure, and Holmes’s supreme conditioning wore Dixie down in the second half. 
Senior center Mitchell Bolin led Dixie Heights in scoring with 14 points, followed by senior guard Liam Rabe with 13 points. Austin Schreck chipped in 9 points and 11 rebounds.
Dixie Heights is back in action Tuesday when they travel to Mount Washington to take on Bullitt East at 7 p.m. Holmes will host Highlands Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Story & photos by Alex Valentine, RCN intern/contributor
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