Photos: Holmes Stuns New Cath in First Round, Dixie Escapes Boone
In a proud moment for Holmes basketball, the Bulldogs scrapped their way to a huge upset win over Newport Central Catholic, 58-51, in the quarterfinals of the 9th Region Boys Basketball Tournament at the Bank of Kentucky Center on Friday night. Holmes now plays Dixie in the semifinals on Monday night at 9.
“I thought the kids stayed together so well tonight. We've seen other times where we've struggled with that aspect of the game. Tonight, we never quit, we stayed together and the kids were pulling for each other," Holmes Head Coach Mike Listerman said.
Holmes needed to show that they could contend with New Cath, as well as Covington Catholic—two teams that had beaten them in the same building previously this season.
“I know that we have a good basketball team. We didn't win 22 games for nothing,” Listerman said. “Have we not preformed up to expectations in a couple of games? Absolutely. But this group is resilient, I love this group of kids. They're playing hard for me, they're giving me their hearts. We'll let the chips fall.”
Also, guard James Bolden had not played well in those losses to the two Catholic powerhouses. He and his teammates erased all of that negative past of this year in resounding fashion with a gritty win over a legitimate state contender in New Cath. Bolden had a game-high 23 points along with five assists. His teammate, junior guard Markel McClendon, added 18.
Bolden and McClendon rose to the occasion and lifted their team in crucial spots, the most pivotal of which took place midway through the fourth quarter. With under four minutes left in the game and the Bulldogs up, 43-40, Mclendon got the ball near the top of the key, rose up for the jumper and knocked down a huge three-pointer. The basket changed the feel of the game from a pat on the back to Holmes for a good, competitive effort by the Bulldogs, to a stunned realization that the upset is actually taking place.
“Those two guys have to be the two to lead us, to be honest about it,” Listerman said. “Then Rod (Avery) does his thing and Marcus (Mullins) does his.”
With that six-point lead, the pressure on New Cath was amplified while Holmes easily surfed their late wave of momentum to a convincing win.
Early on, it looked like the New Cath bigs were going to give the Holmes front court headaches as both senior Drew McDonald and junior Ben Weyer went to work inside, accounting for eight quick points and setting a tone in the post. Last time the two teams played, center Rod Avery was held out of the lineup and the two NCC big men scored that day too, but Avery did have an impact slowing the tandem down enough as the game wore on.
The guard play of Holmes was the story all night, though, and the combo of Bolden and McClendon took off as the Bulldogs went on an explosive run capped off by a Rod Avery dunk off of a steal, making the score 22-10 midway through the second quarter. Bolden then picked up his second foul, though, and sat as New Cath surged back into it on a 10-2 run before halftime.
The second half started like the first one with New Cath feeding McDonald in the post. The senior, who will play his home games on the same floor next season at Northern Kentucky University, showed his exquisite footwork around the rim with nice turnaround post moves. His six straight points, put NCC back in the lead, 28-27.
In what was a theme, though, it was Bolden and McClendon to the rescue again, as Bolden hit a back-to-back threes and McClendon found Avery on an ally-oop in transition, putting the Dawgs back up by four at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth, after McClendon hit his pivotal three, Bolden carried the Bulldogs home with a basket, a sweet dish to Avery and made free-throws down the stretch.
It was not a good shooting night for the Thoroughbreds. They seemed bothered by the pressure of being the favorite, while Holmes looked loose and appeared to have fun playing, which hasn't always been the case this year.
“In the past, maybe I had them too ready to go, so today I just told them to go out and play,” Coach Listerman said. He gave his assistants credit for getting his team ready defensively.
The all-time New Cath leader in rebounds, senior Drew McDonald, had eight more along with a team-high 18 points in his last game with New Cath. Senior point-guard Zack Pangallo had nine.
Holmes beat Dixie in the semifinals last year in the 9th Region Tournament, but then lost to eventual state champion Cov Cath.
“As good of a win as this was, we've got to play Dixie. We can't look past them. They're a quality team and they showed that tonight. They're big and they're strong, and we're quick with our athleticism, so it will be interesting contrasting styles.”
Dixie 48, Boone County 45
Dixie came from behind in the second half to beat Boone County, 48-45, in the quarterfinals of the 9th Region Boys Basketball Tournament at the Bank of Kentucky Center on Friday night.
Dixie guard Liam Rabe led the game with 18 points while teammate guard Austin Schreck had 15. For Boone County, guard Haven Borkowski led his team with 13 points.
Boone County took an early first quarter lead 13-8 after Brendan Stanley hit a corner three-pointer and scored again on a jumper the next trip down. Dixie held tight though, thanks to Austin Schreck scoring seven first-quarter points and narrowing the gap to 13-10 by the end of the opening period
The Colonels went with a man-to-man defense against the bigger rebels rather than the 2-3 zone that they had so much success with in their win against Cov Cath in February. The man defense did well enough, but in the second quarter they switched back to the 2-3. The offense became the problem as Dixie hit a scoring drought to start the second quarter that lasted over four minutes before Drew Moore snapped it with a three to get within four points.
The Colonels needed more than that, though, in part because Boone County guard Borkowski exploded with quick bursts of points, totaling 13 by halftime. Each time the Colonels did something to gain some momentum, like when Schreck scored on an awkward jumper off the glass to cut the lead back to four, Borkowski and his mates pushed the lead back to seven or more.
The Colonels committed a number of turnovers which only hurt their deficit even more. The Rebels were able to convert those turnovers for a few easy baskets in transition and ended the half up 26-19. It would have been more than that if it hadn't been for Dixie forward Drew Moore who score five quick points in the half's last two minutes.
Dixie's Austin Schreck led his team with eight points in the first half, while Borkowski led the game with 13 overall.
The Colonels experienced another scoring drought to open up the third quarter, just like they did in the second. It took three and half minutes before Liam Rabe broke that dry spell with a three-pointer to cut their deficit back to single digits. Fortunately for Dixie, Boone County also had a hard time generating points only putting up seven in the third quarter.
Then the tables started to turn for the Colonels. First it was two straight threes for Rabe, ended up with 10 points in the quarter. Then it was Schreck tying game at 33 just before the buzzer in the third quarter. Then it was Rabe, then it was Schreck. The tandem helped lead Dixie on a 10-2 run and give them a 41-35 lead. Boone County fought back to within three with 6.4 seconds left, but Brendan Stanley's open three fell short and the Colonels advance back to the semifinals to play Holmes on Monday night.
Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor
Photos by Brian Frey, RCN Photographer