By Greg Perkins
Playing their first home game of the year at the Holbrook Junior High School, the Roadrunners also suffered their first setback of the season. A much taller Safford Bulldog team was athletic enough to hold the Roadrunners at bay down the stretch in the final minutes of the game handing Holbrook a 68-60 loss.
Holbrook started quickly building an early lead behind three-point shots from Kobi Koerperich and Tyrell Nelson. Safford rallied late in the opening frame to grab a 15-13 lead heading to the second period. Holbrook made just three field goals in the second but went to the line 10 times making good on nine of those attempts, but fell further behind the Bulldogs who piled up 24 points in the quarter to lead 39-31 at the break.
The Birds trimmed four points off that lead in the third with Koerperich netting eight, along with three each from Eric Baldonado and Nelson. Josiah Freddie connected for five in the stanza as well. Holbrook made it a two point game midway through the fourth period, and from that point the game went back and forth until the final minutes where Safford was able to spread the floor and get the ball into their post player, who essentially ended the game scoring 10 of Safford’s 14 fourth period points.
Koerperich led the Birds with a game high 23 points despite sitting out the fourth period with an injury. Freddie added 15, Nelson, 6; Baldonado, 5; Tynen Thomas, 4; Blayne Nelson, 3; Jaren Jackson, 3; and Jared Woody helped with one. Holbrook made nine three-point field goals, five from Koerperich and went 13 for 17 at the free throw line.
Safford was led by Collin Thompson with 19. Stratton Baldwin added 16, Andrew Smith, 14; Don Gutierrez, 7; Jedrique Chavez, 5; Drew Cochran, 5; and Lane Smith helped with 2.
The Bulldogs made five treys and converted 15 of 22 charity tosses. With the loss Holbrook fell to 4-1. After playing at Alchesay on Tuesday night, the Roadrunners will have six games over three days at the Round Valley Tournament beginning on Thursday. They will host their first game at Tony Munoz next Tuesday when Chinle brings in former Roadrunner coach Raul Mendoza and their many, many fans. Holbrook fans may want to get there early to get a seat.