Holly — The Fenton varsity boys basketball team has made history.
The Tigers (14-0, 19-0) took an early lead and never lost it, despite a furious comeback attempt by the Holly, resulting in a 70-64 victory at Holly High School Friday night.
“It’s a big accomplishment to go in the history books,” Fenton senior Cory Cox said. “I think we are the third team to go undefeated in the league. It’s cool for this group of guys. We will remember that journey as we go through life.”
“I told the boys they need to be happy,” Fenton coach Tim Olszewski said. “Finishing undefeated in the league is a great accomplishment. We have another great opportunity on Tuesday (when Fenton plays Powers for a chance at a 20-0 season), but on Tuesday we want to win the right way. You have to tip your hat to Holly for hitting as many threes as they did. We will definitely be able to take the film, and knowing the system as well as I do, take it and hopefully they’ll understand a better way to defend that type of thing.”
The Bronchos tried to push the tempo and wear the Tigers out by playing 14 players. Early on it didn’t look like it was going to work.
The Tigers jumped out to a 12-2 lead after a fastbreak hoop by Mitch Shegos with 2:40 left in the first quarter. The Tigers led 16-9 after one period.
In the second quarter, the Tigers threatened to blow the game wide open. Back-to-back hoops by Fenton’s Eric Readman raised the Tigers’ lead to 20-9 just 45 seconds into the second quarter. Eventually the lead grew to as many as 30-12 after a three-pointer by Cox with 3:30 left in the half. However, Holly managed a 10-4 run to end the half, cutting the Bronchos’ deficit to a manageable 34-22 at the break.
Holly spent most of the second half lurking about 10 to 14 points behind. The deficit was still 50-36 until Holly’s Josh Simms netted a three-pointer late in the third quarter, cutting the gap to 50-39.
The Bronchos got the deficit under double-digits for good after an Isaac Casillas trey with 1:36 left, cutting Fenton’s lead to 60-53. During the final 96 seconds, Holly hit four treys, and cut the gap to 65-62 after a Kyle Woodruff three with 25 seconds remaining. However, while the Bronchos were able to get the lead to just one possession, the Tigers made just enough free throws down the stretch to keep Holly from having the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. Readman hit two free throws, raising the gap back to 67-62. Holly answered back with a Justis Kerner layin with 16 seconds left, but Cox followed with two more converted free throws. Holly had a three-point shot by Kerner with about five seconds left, but it didn’t go, meaning Readman’s converted free throw following the missed shot pretty much iced the victory.
“Here’s the bottom line. We have 13 or 14 guys that can play a little bit,” Holly coach Lance Baylis said. “We have guys that can shoot. the first time we played them we didn’t have Isaac or Parker (Rowse). We noticed the first time they didn’t sub a lot. So we wanted to run, push the situation and get some shots off before they set their halfcourt defense. Their halfcourt defense is great.”
It was a pretty sloppy game all around. Fenton netted a strong 20-of-40 shots from the field, but turned the ball over 27 times. Meanwhile, Holly hit on just 23-of-67 shots from the field, but did connect on 12 three-pointers. The Bronchos also turned the ball over “just” 18 times.
“Our team played horrible today. I talked to them before the game and said if they go to a Grinnell (College) type system of run and gun, the theory is they are trying to get you to play at a pace you don’t want to play at. So I told them to don’t do it, but we did. We talked about it at every time out. We talked about it at halftime. We talked about it all the time, but it didnt’ sink in.”
Cox led all scorers with 27 points. He also had nine rebounds. Readman netted 19 points and six boards, while Shegos had nine points 12 rebounds and three steals. Holly was paced by Casillas and Woodruff who netted 12 points each. Simms had 11 points while Parker Rowse had eight points.
Fenton hosts Powers for a Tuesday contest, attempting to finish the regular season 20-0.
“That will be a big game for us to finish up with,” Cox said. “It’s a little bit of a rivalry, and we want to finish off the season 20-0.”