BATON ROUGE – His team’s new aggressive, full-court pressure produced the type of results Holden’s first-year coach Landon DuBois was hoping for in the first half of Wednesday’s Woodlawn High Summer Basketball League game with Doyle.
The residual effect, though, became apparent during the second half which made it difficult for the Rockets to put away the Tigers until midway through the final quarter.
Forward Harland Litolff ended an eight-minute stretch without a field goal, scoring six of his 10 points in the last four minutes of play to help Holden to a 41-31 victory.
“I think you saw fatigue get to us in the second half,” DuBois said. “We try to play a very fast pace and it’s obvious we’re not conditioned enough to do that. We’ve just got to work on being more mentally tough. Fatigue didn’t beat us in the sense where we were turning the ball over. We were taking bad shots which leads to a bad percentage.”
Guard Coley Courtney had the hot hand for Holden, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the first half, serving as a catalyst in the Rockets being able to build 18-7 first-quarter lead that grew to 22-9 when Nick and Jake Forbes worked together for consecutive layups.
The Rockets also forced the Tigers into a total of 11 first-half turnovers and limited them to only 12 shots from the floor.
Doyle coach Daniel Kennedy said it was the perfect storm for a team that’s been unable to get any sustained practice time since the end of its season.
With the majority of the Tigers involved in summer baseball, they’ve been able to practice once a week since Kennedy also teaches summer school.
“We’re not going to execute well enough in the summer because we don’t practice enough,” Kennedy said. “They haven’t touched a ball from the time we ended our season. They went straight to baseball.
“My frustration with them is I told them, at what point as a competitor do you say, ‘I’m not going to let that guy outwork me’,” Kennedy said. “That’s got to be the foundation in which you play with. If we would have done that for four quarters, we would have probably won that game, regardless of how we executed.”
Courtney scored 10 of his team’s 18 first-quarter points – a total that included a pair of 3-pointers – and Holden went on to lead 26-13 at halftime. The Rockets shot 48 percent (12 of 25) from the field and turned the ball over only five times.
Litolff scored his team’s first points of the second half when Doyle made its first run at Holden, putting together a 7-0 stretch which guard Braden Keen finished with consecutive baskets for part of his team-high 10 points to make it 28-20 with 1:10 showing.
“It was an evenly matched kind of game,” Kennedy said. “There are good, hard-nosed kind of kids for both teams. The team that plays harder won the game. It’s simple as that.”
The deficit remained eight points when Litolff snapped Holden’s 0-for-13 shooting from the field, putting back his own miss with 3:43 remaining for a 31-21 advantage.
The Rockets’ defense produced six fourth-quarter turnovers to push their total to 21, keeping the Tigers facing a double-digit deficit the rest of the way.
“The boys were jacked up,” said DuBois, a 2007 graduate of Doyle. “The boys have all played for me (at Holden Junior High) and picked up on the rivalry. They get excited and get after it. They get excited when they see Doyle.”