Old school vs. retro was the game between Holgate and South Webster. With an Artis Gilmore look, Holgate senior center Earnest Ferguson looked to help this small Henry County school (58 Boys) advance to a title game on Saturday.
South Webster had plans of their own and looked to their tandem of Nick Aldridge and Evan DeCamp for the answers. Early on, the Jeeps were able to stay within reach of the Tigers, and end the first quarter down 12-6.
Not much changed in the second, staying one step ahead, Holgate worked their offense and defense to perfection. South Webster could only score 5 more points before the half and trailed 18-11.
With a 52-point average, South Webster needs to pick up the pace to have a chance to rally for a victory. Holgate with its 56-point average seems content on playing ball control.
The halftime stats showed South Webster shooting 33.3% while Holgate was hitting at a 50.0% pace. Rebounds were close with the Tigers holding a slight 9-7 advantage. Drew Clady scored 6 to pace Holgate while Nick Aldridge scored 7 for the Jeeps.
Could the Jeeps change the pace and find the magic? The start of the third looked positive with more pressure on defense and finding there outside shot. Early they would cut the lead down to 18-16 with 3:37 left and Evan DeCamp going to the line. Before he could shoot, Holgate coach Paul Wayne would call timeout and look to compose his team before things got away.
With 2:38 Kyle Cayton would hit a three and South Webster went up 1, and with a steal and bucket by Rob Johnson, the Jeeps would see the momentum change. To end the quarter, South Webster worked the clock and with 4.2 seconds left Scott Henry hit an outside jumper for the 23-18 advantage. The tide had changed and the Tigers didn't have an answer during the 3rd while being shutout. Defense with great ball control put South Webster up, could they hold and advance to the finals?
Coach Wayne inserted Ferguson for the 4th, his absence with 3 fouls changed the pace of the game, hitting their first basket with 6:05 left in the quarter gave the Tiger crowd some sense of relief, but could they overcome the past 12 minutes? Only the kids could answer that question.
One player who didn't stop was Earnest Ferguson. The 6'4 center sat for most of the third with 3 fouls and in the crunch he rallied his team and the level of play for the Tigers reached the level of the first half. With 1:28 left Ferguson hit a short turn-around jumper to tie the score at 28.
With less than a minute, Aldridge missed a forced shot and the Tigers worked for the basket, with the clock at 0:00 Blake Sizemore squared and from the release you could see it would be good and the Jeeps fell to the floor in defeat. With the basket Holgate advances with a 31-28 victory and the dream of a state title still in sight.
In the press conference you could still see the hurt in the eyes of Coach Marc Kreischer and players Rob Johnson and Nick Aldridge. Coach Paul Wayne and players Earnest Ferguson and Blake Sizemore showed the smiles contributed with winning such a great game. Coach Wayne praised the work Sizemore had done coming back from a very bad ACL injury in the winter of his freshman year. The junior only hit one shot, but it would be a shot the town of Holgate will remember for a lifetime.
By scoring 0 points during the third quarter, Holgate is the first team to win a tournament game in such a dry spell since 1932.