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Holly’s Autumn Lewis tries to find a pass to a teammate while being defended by Fenton’s Korryn Smith. 

Fenton — The Holly varsity girls basketball team is making a habit of thrilling contests this season.

 Just days after opening the season with a triple-overtime loss to the Linden Eagles, the Bronchos found themselves in another exciting battle with area rivals Fenton.

 This time the Bronchos were able to end the contest on the victorious side, earning a 51-50 victory on the road against the Fenton Tigers.

 And there was drama. The Bron-

chos lost their most recognized leader, Emma Tooley, with just less than five minutes left in the third quarter due to a rolled ankle. Holly trailed at that time 29-24. When she returned to action, Holly (1-1) trailed 44-32 with just five minutes remaining in regulation. Tooley went to work, scoring nine fourth-quarter points. She eventually scored the game-winning free throw with 6.4 seconds left.

 “It was the greatest feeling ever,” Tooley said about the victory. “Watching girls dive for balls — just risking everything just to get the ball back in our hands. We were finishing layups late in the game. I’m shaking right now. I’m so proud of everyone. Watching the underclassmen and watching how they came out and played is an amazing feeling.”

 “That’s just fun. I couldn’t be more proud of these kids,” Holly varsity girls basketball coach Ben Varner said. “Being down 12 with (five minutes left) — it shows that these kids are not going to quit. They play together. We are passing the ball and it’s huge to play that hard and be able to come out and win. Friday was a bummer. You play three overtimes and you don’t get it. But we played just as hard tonight and this time we got the win.”

 On the other side, the Tigers (1-1) led most of the game and had the 12-point lead, but saw the lead evaporate. Fenton varsity girls basketball coach Don Kutchey said it will be a learning experience. Fenton was impressive in its opening victory against Swartz Creek.

 “We always say you either win or you will learn so this is a chance for us to learn a little bit,” Kutchey said. “We will learn a little bit about who we are and that you can’t relax ever. You have to play all the way through for four quarters.”

 Holly had an early 3-0 lead to start, but the Tigers ended the first quarter on a 15-7 run taking a 15-10 lead into the second quarter. Six Tigers scored during the quarter with Kyla Lynch scoring four points. That was pretty normal for the contest. Fenton usually led but not by terribly much.

Holly closed the Fenton lead to just three points three times in the second quarter. The final time came at 23-20 when Tooley dished an assist to Alyssa Johnson on her converted layup attempt. Fenton held the 23-20 lead entering halftime.

 The Tigers threatened to pull away for good in the third quarter. Five Tigers scored in the third with Adrie Staib scoring four points during the stanza. Fenton trailed 36-28 entering the fourth quarter.

 Holly cut Fenton’s lead to 36-30 on a hoop by Paige Weeder, but Fenton’s defense forced Holly to turnovers on five of its first seven possessions of the fourth, helping Fenton take a nice lead. A layup by Sophie Hense was followed by a breaking lay up by Abby Logan. Fenton led 40-30. Then, a hoop by Staib raised the gap to 42-30 with just under six minutes remaining. Tooley returned after Hense made a hoop, giving the Tigers a 44-32 lead.

 Tooley immediately made a difference scoring each of Holly’s next eight points. A three-pointer with 2:40 left cut Fenton’s lead to just 46-40. Eventually, a breaking layup by Lewis cut the Fenton lead to 48-46 with 1:21 remaining. On the Bronchos’ next possession a layup by Hunter Weeder tied the game at 48-all, and then on their next possession Alyssa Johnson hit a driving layup, giving the Bronchos a 50-48 lead with 42 seconds left. Fenton responded, getting a Korryn Smith putback hoop, tying the game with 15 seconds left, but Tooley was fouled with 6.4 seconds left, and made the first free throw, giving Holly a 51-50 lead. Fenton had one more chance but the final shot was missed.

 Tooley led the Bronchos with 17 points while Hunter Weeder had 16 points. Lewis netted six points.

 Fenton was paced by Hense’s 15 points while Smith had eight points. Staib finished with six points.

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