WILLIAMSTON – Having run with conference rival East Lansing and come up just short for a second time this season on Feb. 17, Holt stepped out of conference on Tuesday night and used their powerful transition attack and balance against the CAAC White’s best team.
The Rams beat Williamston 69-52, racking up nearly 50 points in the first half.
“The ball really moves well this year. That’s one of the biggest things,” Holt coach Matt Essell said.
“What makes our team so unique is our unselfishness,” Holt senior forward Myles Baker said. “The loss against East Lansing hurt us. Different losses during the season have hurt us, but we have a goal to reach and we’re not worried about anybody else. We just needed to bounce back and get going on our own journey.”
Holt (15-4) sprinted out to a 21-9 lead, which was its biggest in the opening quarter. Williamston mounted a charge from there, getting back to within four points with a 12-4 run.
Just before the quarter ended, Williamston attempted to save the ball underneath its own basket and the ball went right to Holt senior Josh Denning, who turned and converted a shot to give the Rams a six-point lead at the end of the quarter.
Denning also came up big for the Rams right before half, nailing a 3-pointer to give Holt a 45-30 halftime lead.
But the second quarter was dominated by senior post players Jaron Faulds and Baker, who combined for 15 first-half points and 23 total in the game. Faulds had 16 to lead Holt.
“We have so many different scoring options,” junior Ar’tavious King said. “It’s real easy to attack and then also dish to others on the team because we have those options.”
“When we play really small teams we can try to hammer teams on the glass, but I feel we really are at our best when we’re getting out and turning teams over,” Essell said. “We have so many guards that can finish in transition and get after it on the ball but we can play different styles.”
Sophomore Sean Cobb had all 13 of his points in the first half and junior Cole Kleiver also added 13 points for Williamston (16-4) in their final game of the regular season.
“They were fast in person then were tough size-wise. We just didn’t have enough fight at the start of the game,” Williamston coach Tom Lewis said.
Holt acquired its biggest lead early in the third quarter with two transition baskets from Deandre Whetstone and a backdoor cut and lay-in from King extended the lead to 20.
At the time the lead swelled to that mark, all five players on the court for the Rams had between seven and 10 points for the game.
“We have some kids who play 18 minutes per game that some years would be playing 30 minutes per game or 28 minutes per game,” Essell said. “Because of our depth, we said we were going to roll four guys out there with Jaron for four or five minutes, play your butt off, and then we’re going to roll four or five more in because we don’t have that much drop off.
“It’s tough on our kids because we’ve got really good players but everyone’s accepted it and that’s kind of why we have so many guys averaging between 8-10 points. We can get answers from a lot of different guys.”
King finished with 13 for Holt and Whetstone added 10 points. Sy Barnett chipped in with 12 points for Williamston.