BLOOMFIELD - The unprecedented success continued for the Holcomb Hornets varsity boys basketball team at the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament New Year's Eve.
Not even the three-time defending Bloomfield Christmas Tournament champion Kennett Indians were able to block Holcomb's path to a title at the 16-team tournament.
Sixth-seeded Holcomb withstood a 5-0 run by top-seeded Kennett in the final three minutes of regulation before winning the last two minutes of the game by four points to secure a 75-71 championship victory.
"Even if we won the state tournament this win would be right up there with it," Holcomb senior Michael Glover said of winning the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament title for the first time in school history.
Glover knocked down two free throws with 7.6 seconds remaining to account for the final points. The made free throws increased Holcomb's lead to two possessions and made Kennett's chances of tying the game again minuscule.
"You know Kennett is fast," Glover said, when asked what he thought after making the shots. "So you cannot just turn your head and think you've got it. You have to get back on defense and make sure they don't get an open three or lay-up."
Holcomb got back on defense and began celebrating seconds later when the final buzzer sounded without Kennett scoring again.
"There was purple everywhere tonight," Holcomb coach Seth McBroom said of victory. "Our community support was unbelievable with the weather and it being New Year's Eve night. The kids have bought into hard work and doing things right. You have to have character first and they are all good-character kids. From then on you just keep trying to build and improve things. The kids are trying to attack their weaknesses, there is no doubt. Everybody has weaknesses in their games and our kids attack theirs and get better at them so we can play in games like this and have a chance to win games like this."
The Hornets recorded the first eight points against Kennett to take an early 8-0 lead with 3:37 left in the first quarter.
"We were real worried about them coming out at the beginning of each quarter and onslaughting us with defensive pressure," McBroom said. "We came out in the [beginning] and made some good decisions with the ball."
Kennett trimmed the margin to 13-10 by the end of the first quarter and took its first lead at 16-15 with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter. The Indians largest lead of the first half was 21-17 with 5:44 left in the second quarter. Kennett headed to the locker room with a 31-29 lead following a dunk by Kevonte Mitchell with less than five seconds remaining in the half.
"They were going to be ready to go coming into this game," Kennett coach Jim Vaughan said of falling behind Holcomb. "It's the first time they had been in this championship and it's exciting for their program. We had not been in that situation in this tournament. We had been in that situation before. We regrouped a little bit and survived the first half. We lost one of our starters right in the beginning of the game when Harold Weeden got two quick fouls.
"That start was important for them because it gave them a lot of belief right away," Vaughan continued
Kennett's largest lead of the second half was 37-33 with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter. Holcomb's largest lead was six at the 4:14 mark and 4:09 mark of the fourth quarter.
Holcomb led the game 68-63 with 2:21 remaining. Kennett quickly erased the deficit when it recorded consecutive steals and Mitchell scored five points in less than 30 seconds to tie the game at 68-68 with 1:59 remaining.
"We had just come off a high," McBroom said of giving away the lead. "Our crowd was going nuts and they called a timeout. Then they took it from us twice and converted, which is something they are very capable of doing. They are very well-coached and a talented team. We regained our composure. Our theme all night was to try to stay composed and take care of the basketball."
Holcomb's Jamie Massey knocked down two free throws with 1:46 remaining to put Holcomb back on top 70-68. Mitchell made one of two free throws to cut the lead to 70-69 with 55 seconds left.
Ryan Reeves followed with a 2-pointer to push the Hornets' lead to 72-69. Antonio Primer missed a 3-pointer on Kennett's next possession before Chase Davis made one of two free throws to push Holcomb's lead to 73-69 with 29 seconds remaining.
"We knew they were going to foul us," Davis said. "We were just trying to get the ball in. We had to take care of it and whoever got fouled had to make free throws. We had been working on free throws and we just had to execute what we had practiced and knock them down."
Mitchell hit two free throws to cut the margin to 73-71 with 19 seconds left.
Kennett had a final chance to catch Holcomb on its next offensive possession after the Hornets missed the front-end of a one-and-one with 18 seconds left on the clock. The Indians turned the ball over after pushing the ball to half court.
"We went on a good little run there," Vaughan said of tying the game at 68-68. "A run we had to go on and the types of runs we would have liked to have seen more consistently throughout the game. That was a little bit of how we wanted to play all night. We were able to do it in that stretch right there and then lost control of it again.
"We missed a chance to go ahead on a three on nothing break ," Vaughan continued. "I don't know if that was the game-changer, but it sure lifted Holcomb's spirits at that time.
"But what a masterful job Seth is doing with their kids," Vaughan added. "We talked before the game about how they had been composed all week long and we wanted to try to get them out of their comfort zone."