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Holyoke’s Joey Beckner doesn’t back down when confronted by the St. Francis defense in last Tuesday’s varsity boys basketball game. — The Holyoke Enterprise | Johnson Publications

Underclassmen step up to break cold streak

    Eight tough losses since the new year are behind the Holyoke High School varsity boys basketball team now, as an extremely close 51-47 win over Wiggins marked a huge streak-breaking victory.
    The Saturday, Feb. 2, game at home was the culmination of a full week for the Dragons.  On Tuesday, Jan. 29, they hosted St. Francis, Kansas, losing 57-47. On Friday, Feb. 1, they traveled to Merino, where the Rams won 54-33.
    In all three games, the underclassmen from HHS were called to step up in a big way. Missing a couple of the key players on the HHS roster, guys with less experience suddenly had some high expectations thrust upon them. Even in one week’s time, they became visibly more comfortable with the task.
    Throughout the week of challenging games, coach Marcus Kammer recognized that the effort was being put forth. Where the team fell short, however, was control. “We were wasting too much energy on uncontrolled effort that was leading to fouls and turnovers and lost offensive opportunities,” he said.
    
Holyoke 47, St. Francis 57
    Though St. Francis ended up winning the Jan. 29 varsity boys basketball game 57-47, the home crowd got to see some impressive work put in by the Dragons.
    With the usual leadership of juniors Slaten Burris and Caleb Deaver, freshmen Miles Sprague, Kaison Kinnie and Ethan Johnson started in Tuesday’s game. Sophomore Joey Beckner also played throughout and was a crucial part of the team’s efforts.
    Faced with a difficult opponent, those underclassmen exemplified the growth of the team since the beginning of the season. Where needless fouls may have been expected two months ago, this game showed the Dragons hustling to get in position.
    Shooting by HHS was looking good, too. High scorers Sprague and Johnson put up 14 and 13 points respectively, both hitting some good shots from outside. As the only player on the team given the chance to shoot free throws, Burris remained collected, making three of four. By comparison, St. Francis made 11 of  20 attempted free throws.
    On top of shooting, Johnson, Deaver and Burris pulled down eight rebounds each.
    From early on in the game, it looked like St. Francis had a slight advantage. After one period, the Dragons trailed 15-10. In the second and third quarters, they fell behind a bit more in each. Trailing 48-30 going into the final quarter, the Dragons weren’t done playing. It was their best quarter, outscoring St. Francis 17-9. Despite that push toward the end of the game, HHS came up short, 57-47.

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