HOLT – It’s been a season filled with ups and downs for the Holt boys basketball team.
Vontrell Jackson and Drew Stavicheck are trying to help the Rams build momentum as the regular season closes.
Tuesday was a good start as Stavicheck had a game-high 20 points and Jackson hit a free throw with 3.6 seconds remaining to cap a late rally and lift Holt to a 54-53 victory over Sexton in a CAAC Blue contest.
The Rams (7-8. 5-6) overcame an 18-point first-half deficit and outscored Sexton 16-7 in the fourth quarter to rally for the win.
“That was a real big win,” said Jackson, who scored the game’s final four points. “We’ve lost a lot coming into this game and that was a big win that we needed. I was confident and I knew all of my team was confident that we weren’t going to lose that game even though we were down by that much.”
Holt had lost two straight and five of six heading into Tuesday and coach Matt Essell hopes the victory gets his team going.
“This is maybe just the thing we needed where it was kind of one of those games we probably didn’t deserve to win, and we just hung around long enough and got the win,” Essell said. “I feel like we’ve had a lot of games we deserved to win and found ways to lose them in the end, so it’s kind of nice to play kind of poorly for big stretches and find a way to win in the end.”
The loss for Sexton (6-9, 2-9) was the latest tough one for Carlton Valentine in his first season back on the bench and a year break. The Big Reds made just 3 of 8 free throws in the final quarter and had a lane violation that wiped out another attempt from the charity stripe.
“It stings really bad because you talk about them,” said Valentine, whose team never trailed until the closing seconds. “We talk about doing little things. We practiced free throws and lane violations (Monday) in practice. We talk about that stuff in practice, but it hasn’t translated to the games. We’re 15 games into the season and this shouldn’t be happening.”
Sexton led 46-38 entering the fourth, but Trent Stone scored six unanswered points to start the quarter to pull the Rams within a possession. The Big Reds managed to maintain their lead until Jackson hit the tying 3 with just over a minute remaining.
Sexton had a chance to go ahead but missed a pair of free throws with 52.9 seconds remaining. Holt tried to hold for a last shot when Jackson was fouled with 3.6 seconds left and split a pair of free throws. The Big Reds missed a late 3 as time expired as Holt picked up the win.
“Being down the whole game we battled back and it just showed what kind of team we truly are,” Stavischeck said.