By Greg Perkins
The Roadrunners returned from the Christmas break in fine form picking up their first regular season victory of the season with a 58-50 road win at Show Low on Friday night. Sitting low in the rankings, Holbrook needs to string together a handful of wins in January in order to qualify for the state tournament. Their win over the 17th ranked Cougars catapulted them from 33rd in the rankings up into the 26th position. Teams finishing in the top 24 in the 3A rankings all make the state tournament, or at least the state tournament play-in game.
Eric Baldonado and Emerson Begay each connected from distance in the opening frame and Holbrook’s defense held the taller Cougar squad to just seven points leaving the Birds on top 12-7 at the end of the first. Another trey from Baldonado and two from Tyrell Nelson extended Holbrook’s lead to 25-18 at the half. Kobi Koerperich scored five in the third, but Show Low trimmed two points off the lead with just eight minutes left. In the fourth period Holbrook edged ahead, then went to the free throw line 26 times in the final period, making 17 of those attempts to put the game away. In total the Roadrunners made 26 of 38 free throws in the contest.
Baldonado made most of the trips to the line where he made 11 of 16 shots as part of his game high 23-point outing. Nelson finished with 13; Koerperich, 11; Josiah Freddie, 5; Begay, 3; Jaren Jackson, 2; and Tynen Thomas helped with 1.
Unfortunately for the Birds, they couldn’t carry over Friday’s momentum to Saturday’s game at Page where they fell 51-38 to the Sand Devils. Page jumped out early to a 13-4 first period lead and extended that margin to 32-20 at the break. The third period is what essentially put the game out of reach. Page doubled up the Roadrunners 14-7 making the score 46-27 with only the fourth left. Holbrook made a run late in the game cutting the lead to 10 points, but in the end they dropped their sixth regular season outing.
Koerperich, Freddie and Jackson each netted 6 points. Begay had 5; Thomas, 4; Jared Woody, 3; Blayne Nelson 3, Baldonado 3, and Terrence Kelly added 2. Unlike Friday’s match up this time Holbrook went to the line just twice making good on both attempts from Freddie. Holbrook did make six three-point shots in the loss.
With the split Holbrook headed into Tuesday’s game at Snowflake with an overall record of 11-7 and they are 1-6 in power ranking games. On Thursday Holbrook welcomes in fourth ranked Winslow. Saturday they will travel to see ninth ranked Valley Christian. Next Tuesday the Birds will get a reprieve against highly ranked teams when they face the 29th positioned Longhorns in Payson.