Grant Holmes has been the odd man out in the Fort Hays State backcourt this season, but the senior remained ready when his number was called.
Holmes took advantage of his opportunity in a critical spot on Saturday against Lincoln, coming up clutch for the Tigers in the second half of a 72-63 win at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
The Concordia product hit two key 3-pointers in the second half and finished with a season-high nine points in 14 minutes off the bench to help the Tigers move to 15-9 overall and 9-6 in the MIAA.
“My role has been a lot different this year, but I’ve just tried to stay ready and do whatever the team needs to win,” Holmes said.
What the Tigers needed Saturday was someone to knock down open shots, and Holmes quickly obliged.
Holmes put the Tigers in front with a 3-pointer at the 12:12 mark and hit another key trey with 8:30 left to push FHSU’s lead to six. He had played just 37 minutes this season entering the game.
“He just kind of got stuck being the odd man out, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s not as good as the other guys,” FHSU coach Mark Johnson said. “Every year I’ve coached, there’s always one guy on your team that can be the guy that’s kind of the odd man out that could be playing as much as the other guys, but is kind of the guy that isn’t. I think right now it’s Grant.
“He just did a great job taking his moment and being successful with it and getting us a win. I’m just really happy for him and proud of him.”
The Tigers later put Lincoln away with a 7-0 spurt to take a 63-55 lead with 3:43 left before putting the Blue Tigers away with free throws.
Brady Werth scored a game-high 22 points for Fort Hays while Devin Davis matched his career-high for the second straight game with 18 points off the bench.
“Devin, like we said before the year, is old school Vinnie Johnson, the Microwave from the Detroit Pistons,” Johnson said. “When we put him in, he can get some points in a hurry. Plays with a lot of energy and a lot of passion.”
FHSU, which led 32-29 at halftime, struggled at times to make open looks, but came through with timely shots in the second half. The Tigers finished 26 of 55 from the field for 47.3 percent and 7 of 24 from 3-point range while Lincoln was 21 of 50 for 42 percent from the field and went 8 of 24 from three.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well from three tonight, (but) if you eliminate that part from the game I thought we played well," Johnson said. "We played well defensively. I thought we took care of the basketball; we had 18 assists and nine turnovers. We got the ball, against their stuff, a little bit better to Brady.”
Grant Olsson scored a game-high 24 points for Lincoln, hitting five 3-pointers.
The win moved the Tigers into a tie for fourth place in the MIAA standings with Lincoln. FHSU will play at Central Oklahoma on Thursday.
“We still have some work to do, there’s four games left in the conference,” Holmes said. “This definitely gives us some room to move up, but at the same time there’s plenty of room to move down. We just kind of have to stay on course and keep going from here.”