MASON – Mason had already defeated one CAAC Blue team in Okemos on its way to a run to the Class A district final round Friday night.
But the second CAAC Blue team the Bulldogs faced in back-to-back nights proved to be too much.
A hot-shooting Holt team dispatched Mason 74-44 at Mason High School and moved on to regionals next week.
“We played Mason in the district final three years ago and we got a nice comfortable lead and a win just like what happened tonight,” said Holt senior Jaron Faulds, who was a freshman on the last Rams team to win a district title. “I’m just really proud of this team. Coach (Matt) Essell wasn’t sure if we had come ready to play or were going to come ready to play but I think we definitely did. We jumped on them right away.”
The Rams (19-4) opened the game on an 11-0 run and Mason (10-12) did not score until the 4:36 mark of the first quarter. It was the opening act of a 24-4 first quarter for Holt in which the Rams were efficient and fast one night after beating Parma Western in a semifinal game that had been postponed due to a power outage.
“Came out fast and came out strong and really took care of things,” Essell said. “I had been a bundle of nerves with the (lack of) prep time.”
Holt connected on six 3-pointers in the first half with senior Josh Denning knocking down three of them. Junior Troy Jordan added two made shots from deep of his own as seven players tallied points in the first half for the Rams.
“We really like to get out and run. That’s what we do all the time in practice. We get the ball and go,” Jordan said. “We know what everybody can do, so it’s about getting people the ball where they’re in a position to score and it’s fun.”
The second triple for Jordan came as the clock was running out in the opening 16 minutes. Jordan took a pass from the top, calmly stepped into a deep 3 against a Mason zone defense and his attempt barely touched the net as it went through the basket – a proper summarization of Holt’s shooting over the course of the half.
“It’s unstoppable for us. We don’t have the size, one, and we don’t have the quickness, two,” Mason coach Lee Chaney said about Holt’s inside-out attack. “When they start hitting shots, there’s nowhere for us to turn. Then you throw a 6-10 kid in the middle and it wasn’t a good matchup for us. They played great. They were the better team.”
Holt began the second half on a 6-0 spurt, with senior Myles Baker cleaning up a missed Denning 3-pointer for a basket, Faulds scoring on an inbound lob pass and junior Caleb Cooper registering a steal and lay-in for his first basket of the game.
Sophomore Noah Anderson got the Bulldogs on the board with three minutes gone by in the third, but Holt’s lead was 25 at that point.
Faulds finished with 14 points and seven rebounds to lead Holt. Jordan ended up with 10 points for the Rams and Baker contributed six points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Senior Travis Mussell led Mason with 13 points and Anderson chipped in with 10 points for the Bulldogs.
Holt advances to take on Kalamazoo Central in a regional semifinal at Richland Gull Lake High School on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.