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Holmes vs Holy Cross Preview
1/3/2013 - by Ryan Roberts
Friday night, one of the best rivalries in the Northern Kentucky area and 9th region will once again be on display as the Holy Cross Indians (7-5) will travel to 35th district rival and undefeated Holmes (15-0). Not only is the game a rivalry, it is also big as far as district seeding goes. The winner will have the inside track at the #1 seed in arguably the toughest district in the region, which likely means getting back to the 9th region tournament come March at the Bank of Kentucky Center at NKU.

"Itís the first game we have played that actually counts for something," said Coach Erik Goetz of Holy Cross when talking about the preparation of his team. "We have been more game plan specific. Plus, their quickness and athleticism makes them a unique opponent."

Holy Cross will come in with a 7-5 record after defeating Ryle 65-54 Wednesday night in a game that saw 6í8 Tony Campbell record his 2nd triple double of the season. If Holy Cross is going to end their 7 game losing streak to the Bulldogs, they will need to get big production from not only Campbell, but also the rest of the supporting cast.

"We have to take care of the basketball, protect in transition, and compete on the glass to have a chance to win," said Coach Erik Goetz when asked what the keys to winning were.

Holmes, on the other hand is coming in to this game without a loss after winning the Rock Holiday Classic in Florida. The Bulldogs have won their last 7 against Holy Cross by an average of 13 ppg and were one of just three teams to knock off the Indians last year in one of the best seasonsí theyíve had in school history with a final 28-3 record and All A State Championship.

Despite the recent history of this series and Holmesí perfect record, Coach Jason Booher knows his team will have their work cut out for them.

"Holy Cross is a good team. Itís a rivalry and big district game for both teams. Tony Campbell is one heck of a player."

Booher continued on what the keys to winning were.

"We really have to eliminate them cherry picking on defense off rebounds and stop their transition game. Offensively we must attack the zone and handle the pressure of their 2-2-1 press. They like to press and drop back in a zone. Luckily for us thatís what we have been doing the past two years. Hopefully we can come away with the win."

Here is my personal opinion of the match up:

I believe the key to this game, as both coaches said, will come down to taking care of the ball, which puts it on the guards. Both teams have been very good in transition and are able to put big runs on the opposition. Here is an extended break down of each position match up, based on what Iíve seen from each team so far, as well as a final score prediction:

PG - James Bolden v Burt Pouncy
This will be a very tough match up for Pouncy (along with any other starting pg in this region). Bolden is quicker, more athletic, and his handle could cause Pouncy to get in foul trouble due to him not being quick enough to defend the crossover and quick first step. Holmes will need Bolden to limit the turnovers that HC will try to force with their press. At the other end, Bolden must defend the three. Pouncy is streaky and able to catch fire at any time from outside.
Edge: Holmes

G - Quan Palmer v Blake Tiberi
Palmer is much quicker and more athletic than Blake, but what Tiberi lacks in athleticism, he makes up for with playing the game smart. Tiberi moves well without the ball and uses angles to defend quicker guys through screens. Key to this match up is who shoots the ball better from outside. Both can get hot from outside in a hurry, which could be big for their teams. In the end, I think it will be much tougher for Tiberi to defend Palmer than Palmer trying to defend Tiberi, despite Blake probably being stronger.
Edge: Holmes

G/F BJ Coston v Christian McClendon
This is going to be an absolute war throughout and IMO is the most important match up of the game. Both will try to drive and get to the hoop, but I see Coston's outside shooting being much more important for Holmes than McClendon's. McClendon has shown the ability to get to the rim and finish with strength, which could be a tough match up for Coston. Not much separates these two. McClendon is maybe a little stronger, while Coston is likely more athletic and the better shooter, but both are pretty even when it comes to overall talent.
Edge: Even

F Chris Englemon v Travis Gabbard
This could potentially be a bad match up for both teams. At one end, Gabbard simply isn't strong or athletic enough to defend Englemon around the rim. I'd expect Holmes to use a lot of 4 out 1 in, opposite block, to exploit this match up. The good thing for HC is they will have Tony Campbell to help defensively. At the other end, Gabbard playing outside could be a problem for Holmes as it could get Englemon in foul trouble. That would be very bad for Holmes but I think Glover coming in off the bench would be another tough match up for Gabbard and Holy Cross.
Edge: Holmes

C/F Quentin Chames v Tony Campbell
One year ago, these two were playing together at Holy Cross. Now they are going against eachother on opposing teams. This is the one match up where Holy Cross will be able to exploit Holmes, to an extent. If Campbell posts up, I'm not sure Chames is strong or physical enough to slow Tony down. I do think his athleticism can cause problems for Tony as he will be able to rebound with him, much like Rice did last year, and alter some shots, but if Campbell gets within 5 feet of the rim, the Dogs will have to play great team defense to force Tony to finish over two defenders or make tough shots. Wouldn't surprise me to see Holmes play some zone after pressing to try and neutralize Campbell down low. Campbell has shown great court vision if Holmes does decide to double down low, so his passing could also be a huge asset for the Indians. Holmes must go right at Campbell and be physical if they want to keep the big guy from taking over with altered and blocked shots defensively.
Edge: Holy Cross

Bench:
Holy Cross guards better be prepared to run for 32 minutes as Holmes will throw waves of players out there to wear them down. Junior Keyontae Herndon is one of the best on the ball defenders in the region and Daequan Glover's size and athleticism make him a tough match up at the 2 and 3 position. With Campbell likely being a factor at both ends, junior Marcus Hill and freshman Andrew Arnold will be counted on to come in and help at both ends. Arnold will likely be used strictly to come in and play physical with Campbell, while Hill has shown that he can come in and be counted on to get rebounds, block shots, and get to the line with his 6í5 frame.

On the other side, Holy Cross will use freshman standout Markel McClendon, sophomore Jared Seibert, as well as seniors Will Knochleman and Nate Cox. Holy Cross will have to be able to handle the Holmes athleticism and pressure with the last three on the floor. Goetz likes to give his starters a breather, so the Indians will have to get strong bench play if they want to win.
Edge: Holmes

Overall:
Outside of Campbell and maybe McClendon, Holmes is superior in talent, athleticism, and quickness at every position. The key for Holmes is to not let Campbell single handedly beat them like he has other teams. If Holmes falls in love with the 3 and it's not falling, they need to get back quick. Holy Cross is very good in transition. On the other side, if Holy Cross doesn't handle Holmes full court pressure, they are in serious trouble and could be ran out of the gym. This will likely be the quickest and deepest team Holy Cross has seen to date...save for maybe Scott County. This will be a game of runs as both teams have shown they can put a quick 10-0 run on you in a short period of time. The question is, who makes the final run?

Final Score:
Holmes 64
Holy Cross 55
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