|HHS Dragons 1-1 during tough road stretch|
|Written by Kyle Arnoldy|
Holyoke knew going into the week’s matches that they had their work cut out for them with Haxtun, the top-ranked team in the Lower Platte league, and Fleming, the top-ranked team in the North Central league.
Holyoke was up for the challenge, losing to Haxtun 66-64 in the final seconds of the game and taking down Fleming 52-49 in another close match.
Holyoke 64, Haxtun 66
When the final buzzer sounded on the 64-66 HHS loss to the Haxtun Bulldogs Thursday, Feb. 14, many Dragon fans were in disbelief—disbelief that Haxtun’s final bucket wasn’t waived off for traveling and disbelief that Haxtun had come back from a 16-point deficit to win by two.
The first quarter set the tone for the back-and-forth match the game would be. Haxtun used their height advantage to get good looks from close while the Dragons’ up tempo style of play had them moving the ball up the floor quickly and looking to penetrate the Haxtun zone defense and draw contact. Haxtun took the early lead at 15-12 after the first quarter.
The second quarter was all Holyoke. HHS started the period on an 11-0 run. Deyten Klein had a massive eight minutes as he went off for 12 points to help the Dragons on their way to a 30-point quarter.
Logan Tharp floats a shot over the outstretched hand of a Haxtun
Haxtun may have been the home team, but Holyoke cheers and chants for the Dragons easily drowned out any crowd noise for the Bulldogs. Haxtun only scored 11 points in the quarter, giving Holyoke a 42-26 advantage at half.
“I was really pleased with the way the kids came out ready to play and executed our game plan perfectly,” coach Scott Dille said.
Holyoke’s offensive surge slowed a bit in the second half, allowing the Bulldogs to claw their way back into the game. Haxtun won the quarter, scoring 18 compared to 10 by the Dragons, cutting Holyoke’s lead in half to just eight points.
Haxtun was able to win the crowd back in the fourth quarter as they took control of the game with time ticking away.
With 2:15 left in the match, Haxtun picked up their first lead since early in the second quarter at 60-59. The Bulldogs quickly took advantage of a Holyoke turnover on the ensuing possession and scored again to push the lead to three.
With 17 seconds left in the game and the Dragons trailing by three, Logan Tharp stepped up and sunk a three from the top of the key with a hand in his face. Haxtun pushed the ball up the floor and hit a shot in the lane with 2.5 seconds left to take the lead. Many people in the crowd and on the Holyoke bench thought the play should have been whistled dead for a traveling call, but no such whistle was blown and Haxtun escaped with a 66-64 win.
“I don’t feel like that was the reason we lost,” Dille said of the no-call for traveling at the end of the game.
Tharp led all scorers with 22 points. He also had three assists and seven rebounds on the night. Klein chipped in with 18 points and six rebounds and Tito Fierro added 12 points and six rebounds.
Holyoke 52, Fleming 49
Once again Holyoke found themselves in a dogfight at the end of the game as they edged Fleming 52-49 for a road win Saturday, Feb. 16.
Dille expressed that he believes his team may have still been tired from the physically and emotionally draining loss to Haxtun two nights before, but they more than made up for it with their mental sharpness.
The Dragons did a great job of moving the ball and getting good looks at the hoop as six different players made baskets in the first quarter alone. HHS held a 14-8 lead after the opening quarter.
Fleming fought back in the second quarter, outscoring the Dragons 22-13 for a 27-30 Wildcat lead at half.
The Dragon defense shined in the second half, allowing very few clean looks at the basket for Fleming. HHS also limited the number of second-chance buckets for the Wildcats as Holyoke had their best rebounding game of the year, according to Dille.
Each team put up 11 points in the quarter, giving Fleming a 41-38 advantage with eight minutes left in the game.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Holyoke stole the lead. The Dragons finished the game at the free-throw line, holding off the Wildcats for the 52-49 victory.
Tharp scored 14 points to lead the Dragons. Klein picked up 13 points and Fierro added 12.
The Dragons were scheduled to play Yuma Tuesday, Feb. 19. Results will appear in the Feb. 28 issue of the Enterprise.
Yuma is the second-ranked team in the Lower Platte league, with their only loss of the season coming to Haxtun.
Thursday, Feb. 21, the Dragons will hit the road for a rematch with Akron, who beat HHS 68-55 earlier in the season.
Friday, Feb. 22, HHS will host Sedgwick County on parents’ night for the last regular season game of the year. The Dragons took down Sedgwick County 70-67 earlier in the season.
Holyoke Enterprise February 21, 2013