The past two, a runner-up Okemos and the '04-'05 champions, Holt, were on hand this Tuesday evening as Holt took on the upstart Giant Maroons of Kalamazoo Central in the opener and the Chiefs battled Ann Arbor Pioneer in the night cap. And the local teams brought their fans to one of the largest seating facilities in Michigan prep basketball.
On to the first game, Holt took command early by taking advantage of Kalamazoo Central's turnovers and jumped out to an early lead 9-1 lead that was capped by 5'9 freshman point guard Dunlunto Jackson's put-back.
Central tried to force an up-tempo game as the athletic and youthful squad might have been able to take advantage if they played within themselves however, the tempo affected their play as unforced turnover after unforced turnover plagued the Giant Maroons. They were able to find their scoring as their full-court pressure seemed to take effect when Holt had to inbound the ball after made baskets. The first quarter ended with the Rams ahead, 19-13.
Holt took steady command into the second quarter and extended their lead to 27-17 before turnovers turned into assists and bricks turned into buckets for Kalamazoo Central. A three pointer by 6-foot-3 guard Corey Person kicked of a 9-0 run and the Giants trailed, 27-26, at the half.
The third quarter was full of great basketball as the teams traded leads seven times and battled through two ties. But, the quarter belonged to Holt's 6-foot-6 power forward Paul Crosby, as he scored eight of his team's first ten second half points. Central found six players with the scoring touch and the Holt lead grew to five, 45-40.
The Rams 5-0 run to start the fourth quarter built their lead to ten and Crosby went to work again as Holt held off Kalamazoo Central and won, 63-55. The win captured a birth in the Regional Final for Holt against Ann Arbor Pioneer at the Fieldhouse this Thursday at 7pm.
Crosby finished with 26 points hitting 10 of his 15 shots. The big guy grabbed 17 boards and almost half were offensive.
Jackson is a very poised freshman that hit one three en-route to his eleven points.
6-foot-5 junior wing Rashawn Molden was the surprise of the evening as this lefty hit four of his five three pointers and scored 16 points.
Kalamazoo Central had three in double figures 6-foot-1 senior guard KD Bell with 13, 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Doug Anderson added 12, and 6-foot-4 junior guard Corey Person tacked on 11.
ANN ARBOR PIONEER VS OKEMOS The following game of the double header featured Ann Arbor Pioneer and Okemos. Neither team has that super-star that fans immediately recognize so, both teams look for a balanced scoring attack.
The contest was close after the first quarter with Pioneer ahead, 14-13. They were able to extend their lead in the second quarter as Okemos went cold from the field and fell behind 24-21 at the half.
Moving to the third quarter, the teams dueled before Pioneer's 6-foot-2 senior guard JT Knight scoring caught fire. His three three-pointers kept his team ahead, 37-34 at the end of the quarter.
Knight continued his long range extravaganza in the fourth as he hadn't had enough from deep. He added another three-pointer and a timely lay-up boosted the Pioneer's to victory, 50-42.
Knight was the only player to reach double-figures by scoring 21.
6-foot-5 junior forward Zach Williams added eight in the scoring column but, his presence was felt most in the paint on defense as he held Okemos big men, 6-foot-10 senior Anthony Ianni and 6-foot-6 senior Denny Means to two points apiece.
6-foot guard Ryan Erickson led Okemos with 8 points.