Point guard controls flow of uptempo affair
Roughly four minutes into Monday's game at Catholic University, referee Dave Funk blasted his whistle and announced as he approached the scorer's table, "Media timeout."
"That's our first this year," the clock manager at DuFour Center replied with a smile.
Such is life in Division III basketball, in which games get little attention, even when they pit perennial powers. That was the case Monday as Catholic played host to Randolph-Macon, schools with a combined 15 NCAA tournament appearances in the last 15 years.
In an uptempo, entertaining game that featured the quickness and perimeter skills of the Cardinals against the inside strength of the Yellow Jackets, Catholic senior point guard Shawn Holmes controlled the flow and scored a game-high 27 points in a 67-55 victory.
With top scorer Chris Kearney (Westfield), a 6-7 senior, failing to make any of his nine attempts from the floor against the rugged defense of 6-7 sophomores Akeem Holmes (two blocks) and Joe Hassell, Catholic (8-1) had to find other sources of offense. In addition to Holmes, coach Steve Howes' team got contributions from sophomore wing Steve Limberiou (12 points, three steals), freshman guard Bryson Fonville (nine points, four assists) and senior wing Nate Koenig (seven points), a graduate of B-CC.
Randolph-Macon (3-5) -- coming off three straight NCAA berths in as many seasons under former Walter Johnson player Nathan Davis -- opened with the first six points of the night. But Catholic answered with the next seven to set the tone for a seesaw first half.
When the Yellow Jackets hit the Cardinals with eight straight points late in the half to take a 20-15 lead, Holmes answered with rainbow 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give Catholic the lead.
The action was so fast-paced that midway through the first half the clock operator lost track of the score, and no one on either team noticed until individual points were added up at halftime.
When Limberiou opened the second half with a layup and a 3-pointer, it gave Catholic its biggest lead at 37-27, which it never relinquished despite the pressure defense of Randolph-Macon and the play of 6-5 junior Andre Simon (16 points, 10 rebounds).
The Yellow Jackets pulled within five points midway through the second half, but Holmes (8-for-13 shooting) had the answer again with a couple of jumpers sandwiched around a runner by Limberiou as Catholic pushed its lead back to 48-37.
In the closing minutes, Holmes hit a clutch turnaround jumper and freshman guard Kyle Phanord (seven points) added a jumper and a pair of free throws to keep the Cardinals in command.