By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter
Even though he doesn’t have a deep bench, Holmes girls’ basketball coach Tony Perkins wants his team to apply full-court pressure and generate an up-tempo style of play from start to finish in a game
That’s a lot to ask when you rely on a six-player rotation, but the Bulldogs did it quite well Tuesday in a 65-34 win over Dixie Heights in the first round of the 9th Region playoffs at BB&T Arena.
Holmes scored 36 points off 34 turnovers during the game. The Bulldogs’ full-court pressure was so effective in the first quarter that they jumped out to a 20-4 lead with 14 points coming off turnovers.
The get-it-and-go style of play faltered a bit in the second quarter and the lead slipped to 26-14 at halftime. After the break, however, Holmes put the game away with a 24-8 run in the third quarter that included 16 points off turnovers.
“We dug ourselves a hole early and it’s hard to get back against them when they handle the ball as well as they do and apply pressure like they do,” said Dixie Heights coach Joel Steczynski. “We’ve had some success the last few weeks by being able to limit our turnovers against teams applying pressure against us, but it’s a different kind of pressure that they’re applying.”
Holmes senior guard Jaynice Stovall scored nine of her game-high 21 points in the third quarter with three of her four baskets coming on fast breaks after steals.
“I thought in the third quarter we picked our spots and we passed the ball well, and the thing we did was finish on fast breaks,” coach Perkins said. “Jaynice, in the first half, missed three or four layups going full speed (to the basket). Then we got on her about jump stop, ball fake and put it in the hole.”
Stovall had seven rebounds, four assists and four steals to go along with her 21 points. Junior guard Laila Johnson also had an impressive stat line with 19 points, nine assists, seven steals and six rebounds. The team’s other double-figure scorer was junior forward Tyrah Englemon with 11 points.
All three of them were starters on last year’s regional championship team. The Bulldogs were expected to win the title again, but a loss to Holy Cross in last week’s 35th District final showed they weren’t unbeatable.
“We’ve just got to play together and play smart,” Stovall said. “If we don’t play smart, we make turnovers and take bad shots and that all adds up.”
Holmes shot 42.3 percent (25 of 59) from the field while holding Dixie Heights to 36.1 percent (13 of 36) in Tuesday’s game. The Colonels’ leading scorers were senior Kylie Brock and sophomore Grace Perry with nine points each.
Holmes will play Conner in a semifinal game at 8 p.m. Friday that will be a rematch from last year’s regional tournament. The Bulldogs won that game, 64-32, and they beat Conner again this season, 63-58, in January.
HOLMES 20 6 24 15 — 65
DIXIE HEIGHTS 4 10 8 12 — 34
HOLMES (25-5): Johnson 6 6 19, Keith 2 0 4, Englemon 5 1 11, Stovall 8 2 21, Graham 3 0 7, Beckett 1 0 3. Totals: 25 9 65.
DIXIE HEIGHTS (14-19): Perry 3 2 9, Brock 4 0 9, Lockard 1 2 4, mcGinn 2 2 6, Pelfrey 1 0 2, Buddenburg 1 0 2, Fields 1 0 2. Totals: 13 6 34.
Three-pointers: H — Stovall 3, Johnson, Graham, Beckett. DH — Perry, Brock