PREP BASKETBALL: Annual Holly Pond tournament ends with spectacular performance from Broncos


Holly Pond’s offense erupted in the final two minutes of the Broncos’ game against Good Hope, making up a double-digit deficit going on to win it 68-62. / Nick Griffin

HOLLY POND – The 61st annual Holly Pond Thanksgiving Invitational Basketball Tournament is in the books, and the final day was full of great games and stellar performances from several local teams.

The junior varsity teams finished their tournament before the varsity starting with the third-place game between the Good Hope Raiders and J.B. Pennington Tigers.

It was a tough 32 minutes for the Tigers as they struggled to come up with offense against Good Hope’s press defense. The Raiders defense came up with 12 steals during the game. On the other side of the ball, the Raiders got great games out of Eli Phares and Tanner Malin, who finished with 19 and 22 points respectively. The high-scoring offense and stout defense paved the way to a dominant 62-28 victory for the Good Hope Raiders.

Up next in the junior varsity championship game were the Cullman Bearcats and the Holly Pond Broncos. This contest was much more competitive than its predecessor as the momentum shifted back and forth between the two teams for four quarters. Holly Pond got off to a hot start going up 10-0 early in the first quarter and led 21-10 by the end of the quarter. Cullman was able to get their offense going in the second quarter to tie the game at 31 going into the half.

The Broncos stayed with Cullman through the third quarter as well, thanks to big performances from Isaac Ludwig, who finished with 17 points, as well as Jordan Albright, who put up 16 points and five rebounds of his own. The Broncos pulled away in the fourth quarter thanks to some defensive adjustments and won 81-63. Mason Herron led the ‘Cats in scoring, with 12 points including two deep 3-pointers.

The first varsity matchup in the final day of round robin play was between the J.B. Pennington Tigers and the Cullman Bearcats. The Bearcats got off to a slow start, trailing 14-5 at the end of the first quarter but made up some ground in the second quarter to cut the lead to 21-20 at halftime. Cullman came out of the locker room shooting and put the Tigers away in the second half on their way to a 57-44 win and a 3-0 record in the tournament. Drew Morton led the way for the ‘Cats on offense with 19 points and three baskets from beyond the arc. Dylan Finch wasn’t far behind with 13 points and six rebounds.

In the final game of the tournament, the Holly Pond Broncos and the Good Hope Raiders faced off in a physical game with a dramatic ending. The Raiders started the game on fire, scoring 21 points in the first quarter, 11 of which came from forward Kallen Sharpton. Sharpton finished the game with 13 points and four rebounds.

The Raiders led 21-10 at the end of the first and didn’t give up the lead until there was less than a minute remaining in the game. Holly Pond’s offense had been contained for the entire game but erupted in the final two minutes to make up a double-digit deficit and tied the game at 61 on a layup from Kyler Chaney with less than a minute to play. The Broncos took their first lead on a free throw from McKinley Garrett with 38 seconds to play and sprinted through the finish to win it 68-62. Garrett was all over the floor pulling in a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with 17 points.

The 2017 basketball season is in full swing with the local Thanksgiving tournaments wrapping up and teams looking to build off their performances this holiday season.

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