The Holly boys were ready. They had lost to Linden twice during the regular season, and had a week to prepare for the third match up. The preparation showed, and the Bronchos held the lead the entire game until 52.8 seconds remaining.
Holly scored the first six points of the game, two of the buckets on the inside from senior Dylan Hignite. Linden cut the gap as close as 18-15 on two converted free throws by Shane Eberhard a bit later, but Holly got a three-pointer by Ryan Ortiz and a breakaway layup by Mathews towards the end, giving the Bronchos a 23-15 lead after the first quarter.
Linden came as close as 23-21 on a reverse layup by Eberhard early in the second quarter, but after a Holly time out, they responded with the next five points. Two of the points came on converted free throws by Hunter Jackson, another on a converted free throw by Hignite and the final two on a 12-foot jumper by Ben Wilson to put Holly up 28-21. Holly led by as many as 36-26 after two converted free throws by Mathews, but eventually settled for a 39-31 halftime lead.
The Bronchos came out of the locker room spirited, to say the least. Holly scored on six of its first seven possessions of the second half, and with Mathews scoring the first 11 points of the run, they built up a 53-35 lead after a three-pointer by Jackson. However, Holly big man, Dylan Hignite got into early 2nd half foul trouble, and from that point on, the Eagles dominated the third quarter. Linden scored on eight of the next nine possessions. Beil helped start the run with a three-pointer and a jumper while Reichen Lund scored seven points during the run, enabling the Eagles to cut the Holly lead to just 55-53 entering the fourth quarter.
As was the case all year, the Bronchos continued to fight; and back-and-forth they would go. Jackson converted a conventional three-point play and dished a break away layup to Mathews, raising Holly’s lead back to 60-53. But Linden responded with a 7-0 run of its own, with the final two coming on a lay up by Eberhard. In response, three converted free throws by Mathews gave the Bronchos a 63-60 lead. The Holly lead then grew to 66-62 on a Mathews triple. Blake Lund then converted two free throws, and hit his only field goal of the fourth quarter on a driving layup, tying the contest at 66-all with 1:51 left in regulation. Lund then converted 1 of 2 free throws with 52.8 seconds left, breaking a 66-66 tie. The stage was set.
Holly’s Danny Mathews, the night’s top offensive performer, finishing with a game-high 34 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, was called on to take the last shot of the game. Mathews worked inside for about an eight foot turnaround jumper. He missed. The rebound went to Holly’s Jacob Welch who put up a highly contested shot,but it also missed. As a result, the Eagles were able to escape with the 67-66 victory.
HOLLY – Mathews (34), Peters (8), Jackson (7), Wilson (7), Hignite (5), Ortiz (3), Dzendzel (2)
LINDEN – B. Lund (18), R. Lund (15), Eberhard (11), Beil (10), DeGayner (8), Gillespie (4), Wilderman (1)
(portions of this article taken from TCTimes article)