HOLCOMBE — The Lake Holcombe boys basketball team built a big first-half lead and held off a late comeback as the Chieftains opened East Lakeland Conference play with a 79-66 victory over Cornell on Tuesday.
Lake Holcombe (1-1, 1-0) led 64-43 with with under 10 minutes to play in the game but the Chiefs came storming back. An 18-2 run pulled Cornell (0-4, 0-1) to within eight with 2:49 left in the game.
“Once it got to 10 (points), I took that timeout and they said, ‘it’s alright coach we’ll be fine’ and they were fine,” Lake Holcombe coach Joy Webster said.
Following buckets by Josh and Tristan Jones for Lake Holcombe to go up 10, Cornell’s Kyle Glaus converted on a three-point play to make it a seven point game.
“In the first half we lacked energy. In the second half we started chipping away, chipping away and slowly as that happened the energy started picking up,” Cornell coach Marcus Leland said.
To close out the game the Chieftains got production from the team’s only senior. Tristan Jones scored six points over the final two minutes, with all 11 of his points coming in the second half to ice the game.
“That was big. I told him you had a big few minutes there,’” Webster said. “That was big in the game as he hit that jumper there, it was a big turnaround there because the momentum was definitely in their favor.”
Lake Holcombe had built its big advantage with some offensive fire over the final six minutes heading into break. Up 23-19, the Chieftains scored 25 points in a six-minute span to head to the locker room leading 48-24.
Kaden Crank scored eight points during the 25-5 run with Kaden Kinney and Brock Flater each adding seven.
“I think that is what our hope is for this season. We’re small and I think our game is going to be that transition offense,” Webster said. “I think we tired them out that last six minutes (of the half) and we kept running.”
Lake Holcombe had five players in double figures for the game. Crank had a game-high 24 points. Brock Flater scored 18 and Kinney had 14. Tristin Jones put up 11 and Josh Jones 10.
After seeing limited time last year, Crank has scored more than 20 points in both games this season and Webster isn’t at all surprised with the commitment he put in during the offseason.
“Crank put in a lot of time this summer and it’s paying (off),” Webster said.
Glaus led Cornell with 21 points, including 16 in the second half. Luke Thompson scored 14 second-half points on his way to 16 for the game. Caleb Balow and Ryan Larson each chipped in nine for the Chiefs.
“It was the tale of two halves for us,” Leland said. “The first half we struggled just to finish, just finishing easy bunny shots. Second half those shots we missed in the first half were there, we executed a lot better. We cleaned up the glass on the defensive side which allowed us to make a run and we made those stops.
“We’re seeing the movement, we’re seeing the progress, lots of positives. We just have to start stringing that stuff together.”
Both teams return to the court on Thursday when Lake Holcombe hosts Flambeau and Cornell has a home matchup with Winter.
“Cornell is always a big win,” Webster said. “The Rib Lake game (to start the season) was tough. I told these guys we’ll get in conference play and we’ll be alright.”