SWARTZ CREEK, Michigan — Holly’s only two blemishes this season have now come against the top two teams in the Flint Metro League; and both, oddly enough, beat the Bronchos in the most inconceivable way.
The Bronchos and their hard-to-handle zone defense have surrendered only an average of 46 points per game this season. In their losses to conference rivals Fenton and Swartz Creek, however, Holly gave up 68 and 69 points, respectively.
For Swartz Creek, a win tonight really meant only one thing: win out and win a championship. That’s all this team thinks about, and it showed tonight as they stormed the boards in the second half, winning 69-51.
The presence of 6-5 junior J.D. Tisdale was felt early on, as the Bronchos focused the bulk of their attention on the athletic combo guard. With Tisdale on the floor, it’s easy to forget that Swartz Creek has one of the top guards in the county in junior Max Cummings. Holly probably won’t forget again. The crafty Cummings is about as creative a scorer as you’ll find at this level. He sees all the angles, uses every inch of the lane and will surprise you with his quickness. Cummings scored a game-high 28 points.
Tisdale, for his part, did the bulk of his damage in the second half to turn what had been a war (Creek led by only five points at the half) into a near rout. Creek led by as many as 22 in the half. Tisdale finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds (a season high).
Senior guard Jared Plawski led Holly with 15 points.
Over the years I’ve come to admire Coach Lance Baylis and his program; I expect the Bronchos to bounce back. They play hard and are well-coached. Baylis’ team struggled with Swartz Creek’s pressure, especially in the second half, leading to 21 turnovers. They also struggled mightily from the foul line and the 3-point range, two spots on the floor from which you’d expect much better from the Bronchos.
The other variable was the absence of senior forward Nic Stoll. The Michigan Tech-commit watched too much of the game from the bench, as his troubles with fouls started early. He’s is the Bronchos’ best player on both ends of the floor, so losing him was crucial. Creek, to be fair, had foul issues of its own after a whistle-laden first quarter that nearly had Coach Jeremy Trent pulling his hair out.
The future is bright for both these programs, as numerous underclassmen logged big minutes in a big game. Holly has a trio of freshmen who actually play (Parker Rowse, Isaac Casillas and Morgan Baylis) and Swartz Creek starts three juniors. In addition, the Dragons will soon reunite with sophomore scorer Marquavian Stephens, who doctors should clear to play in the coming weeks. He’s going to surprise a lot of people in both Fenton and Holly when he returns.
This should be a great rivalry for many years to come.