ALBANY – A lot can change over the course of a month.
Take Friday’s Albany-Holden boys basketball game as an example.
Holden used a strong second-quarter run to help key a 63-47 win over the Hornets at Albany, getting a bit of payback for a home loss to the Hornets on Dec. 20.
“Before the Christmas break, we were in a downward spiral,” Holden coach Landon DuBois said after the Rockets moved to 9-10. “We had lost our way. We really didn’t know kind of what our identity was any more, and we just kind of had lost ourselves. We got some wins over the holidays after Christmas and played better. We went 2-2 over the holidays (with wins over Gueydan and Delcambre and losses to Hicks and Northlake Christian), but we were playing better in all four games, so we really needed this win (Friday), and it really helps us kind of start getting back on track for sure.”
Meanwhile, Albany (7-13), which scored a 65-38 win in the December meeting, played without Trey Yelverton (suspension) and J.J. Doherty, who quit the team.
“Our guys have to realize that Trey’s suspended and J.J.’s not here, and so everybody’s role has to increase, and some people are increasing their roles, and some people are doing the same thing, so we have to get everybody on the same page,” Albany coach Chris Carter said. “Credit Holden, they were more physical than us down low. I thought our guards, (it) was an even matchup, but down low, they really exploited the 2-3 and the 1-2-2 (defenses).”
Holden led 11-10 at the end of the first quarter but got rolling in the second quarter after Hartland Litolff’s steal and dunk keyed a 9-0 burst that put his team ahead 28-15.
“Holden was able to get out in transition because we were turning the ball over …,” Carter said. “That dunk really got them going.”
A pair of free throws by Caleb Puma capped a 4-0 burst by the Hornets before Holden’s Coley Courtney connected on a 3-pointer for a 31-19 lead.
“We lost one of our shooters (Yelverton) … and so we really have to work to get the ball to Caleb,” Carter said. “He still had a good game, but we need a better supporting cast around him to complement. I thought Brock Pregeant came in and rebounded the ball well.”
Albany’s Elijah Peavoy, who had 10 points, completed a three-point play which cut the lead to 31-22 at halftime.
Holden’s Dylan Gueldner scored nine of his 17 points in the second quarter.
“Just be aggressive,” Gueldner said of the team’s approach during the run. “We knew we had the size, so just use that size, be aggressive, crash the boards, go up strong.”
Holden extended the lead to 36-24 on Gueldner’s basket before a 3-pointer by Abraham Puma made the score 39-27.
Albany got within 10 points twice in the third quarter – the last time at 41-31 on Peavoy’s basket – but Holden relied mostly on its inside game while working the defensive boards to key an 8-3 burst that ended on Nick Forbes’ jumper, giving Holden a 49-34 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“That’s what we’ve preaching,” DuBois said of Holden working the ball inside. “We want the ball to go in. I think when we went in that little stretch before Christmas where we were really struggling, I think that we got away from that.
“We want to play inside-out, and we’ve been doing that a lot more lately, and so we’ve been playing better,” DuBois continued. “We’re going to watch that film and we’re going to show them so that we can hammer that in that we want to be an inside team first and then have our complimentary pieces knock down those shots and really kind of nail it home.”
Forbes scored 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter.
Holden stretched the lead to 53-34 on a pair of Courtney free throws, but Caleb Puma kept the Hornets afloat, scoring 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter.
“I was finding open holes, and I wasn’t trying to go all the way because they’ve got some pretty tall guys, and I’m an undersized guard, so I was trying to get some easy jump shots in,” Puma said of his fourth quarter.
Puma’s basket got the Hornets within 58-47 before the Rockets went 5-for-6 at the free throw line down the stretch to close out the scoring.
“All we can do is scrap moving forward, but I told our guys that this is our last pre-district game, and these last three games without J.J. and Trey should somewhat prepare them for next week,” Carter said of the start of district play at Loranger on Tuesday.