Twice in the fourth quarter, when the Garden City High School Buffaloes desperately needed a defensive stop, their veteran guards Kyler Lamb and Carlos Acosta delivered.
With Palmer Ridge, Colo., threatening to pull within one possession of the Buffs for the first time since the first quarter, Kyler Lamb broke off his guy, and sprinted to the help side and blocked what looked like it should have been an easy lay up to bring the Bears within two points Friday night at The Garden.
Instead, the Buffs sprinted out and got a Jackson Dirks lay up to push their lead back to six.
Minutes later, when the Bears had pulled within two, Acosta stripped Palmer Ridge’s Trey Jones and exploded the other way for the breakaway deuce as the Buffs held on for the 49-42 win and moved to 3-0 for the first time since 1996.
“Those are huge,” Holloway said of the defensive stops. “Those are the plays we talk about in timeouts. We needed to find a way to dig in, find a stop and force them to foul us and go to the free-throw line and knock them down.”
They did just that, going 9 of 10 from the line in the final two minutes, including 3 of 4 from Acosta and 2 of 2 from Lamb.
Acosta scored a game-high 19 points and Lamb racked up 16 and a double-double with 11 rebounds.
The Lamb performance came a night after Holloway said he needed more from the senior guard after he scored just five in the Buffs’ 60-46 win over Coronado, Colo.”
“It’s good. He’s going to have to do that, be able to handle bad games and learn from bad games,” Holloway said of Lamb. “He stepped up.”
The Buffs had led by at least five since the first quarter, but Jack Rippley’s trey at the third-quarter buzzer brought the Bears within 30-26. Then Rippley blew past his defender and was headed straight to the rim for a lay up, but Lamb flew from behind and ripped the ball away, leading to Dirks’ lay up.
Later in the quarter, with the Bears back within four, Acosta recorded his fourth and final steal, and none were bigger.
“They’re learning to handle my disgust when those things (Palmer Ridge 3-pointers),” Holloway said. “I got after my guys and I thought they did a good job responding.”