Offensive end and defensive end, sophomore point guard Jordan Holmes continues to step up for the Columbia Eagles.
Coming off a career-high 28-point effort in a 49-44 overtime win over Civic Memorial on Tuesday, Holmes turned in another strong performance Thursday with 18 points and some impressive defense in the final minutes against Central standout Logan Kohrmann in a 53-49 victory over the Cougars.
The loss snapped an 11-game win streak for Central (22-2, 8-1 in conference), which came into the game ranked second in the Associated Press’ Class 2A boys basketball poll. It also earned Columbia (16-5, 6-1) a bit of payback, after the Cougars had handed them their first loss of the season 67-56 on on Jan. 8 in Breese. The Eagles had gone into that game 12-0.
“Thank goodness for Jordan Holmes,” said Columbia coach Mark Sandstrom. “He stepped up and made some big plays for us again. Particularly with the defense he played on Kohrmann there late.
“But all of our guys played well. They remembered what happened the first time we played them and knew what this game meant. The important thing is now we’ve still got a chance to win a share of the conference championship.”
Among Holmes’ contributions were a key conventional three-point play in the third period, which helped give the Eagles a seven-point edge at the time. Columbia would lead 40-34 entering the fourth quarter.
Then in that final period, he hit a 3-pointer and sank six of eight free throws, but maybe more importantly helped hold Kohrmann to just four points over the final three and a half minutes after the senior all-state candidate had tallied nine points in the quarter’s opening two and a half minutes to fuel what looked like what might be a Central comeback.
“We knew they were not going to anyone else but him because he’s a great player,” said Holmes. “I just knew I needed to step it up, try to keep him from getting the ball. And when he did I had to play tough defense.”
Columbia also got strong efforts inside from senior center Korbin Farmer and forward Drew Hueber, who finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively, as the Eagles controlled play in the paint.
“You knew that was going to be a physical game,” said Sandstrom. “But our guys inside were looking to get the basketball and did a good job finishing.”
Central coach Jeremy Shubert said his team found itself looking for Kohrmann too much on the offensive end, especially late in the game.
Kohrmann did finish with 22 points, 13 of them in the final quarter. Jack Streiker with nine points was the only other Cougar to come close to double digits.
“We have to get more scoring support for Logan,” Shubert said. “But you have to credit their defense. They didn’t us give any backdoor looks. They battled in the post hard and we didn’t work hard enough to make our entry passes.
“We’ve just got to have more guys step up and hit shots.”
Trailing 40-34 entering the final period, Kohrmann’s early flurry quickly drew Central back to within 43-42 with 5:32 to play.
But Central could never get over the hump — despite drawing within two points on four occasions — as Columbia had an answer every time the Cougars scored in the final minutes.
A pair of Kohrmann free throws with 46.8 seconds left provided the Cougars’ final points, drawing them to within 51-49.
But Columbia was able to break through Central’s full-court pressure, leading to a pair of Jordan Holmes free throws with 44 seconds left.
Central failed to score on its final two possessions of the game.
“We have not practiced real well this week and it showed on the floor,” Shubert said. “And I thought they guarded better than the first time we played them.
“We’re got to have more guys step up and we’ve got to find a way to be better, because the second season is coming pretty quick.”
Despite falling behind 5-0 in the game’s opening minute, Columbia outscored Central 14-8 over the remainder of the period to lead 14-13 after one quarter.
The Eagles would maintain that one-point edge going into halftime, a basket from Huebner with 38 seconds left in the half putting Columbia up 29-28 at the break.
Columbia would maintain the lead through most of the third period, its most impressive play coming near the three-minute mark when Jordan Holmes took the hard to the basket against a pair of Central defenders and knocked in a left-handed shot for a three-point play to make it 40-34.
“I saw my guy, got passed him, and I was thinking I was going to score all the way,” said Holmes, who hit four of seven shots from the field. “But than that other guy got in my way and fouled me for a one-and-one. That got the crowd going crazy and us feeling good about ourselves.”