FLORENCE — The Buffaloes just couldn’t stop Holland from scoring in the final day of their own tournament.
Florence kept the Hornets close and tied the game three times throughout the first quarter, but they couldn’t find a way to stop senior forward Luke Frei as Holland won 54-27 on Saturday morning.
“We need to make shots and focus on free throws a little bit more,” said junior Derrick LaBounty. “We get good buckets on the inside; we just don’t finish them, so that’s what we’re going to work on.”
It was a slow start for the Buffs (5-6), who trailed 6-2 late in the first quarter until senior Kelby Vaughn came off the bench to ignite the offense.
“When I get out there I just try to get the team rolling and kind of hype up the offense,” Vaughn said of his sixth-man role. “I try to put some points on the board, and it really gets the morale up.”
The Buffs guard picked up a steal in the corner of the backcourt by the Florence bench. He made his way around Holland defenders and drove in for a layup that tied the game, 6-6.
“We’re a more fast-paced team,” said Vaughn. “Fast paced, fast passes, get the wide-open shots and layups — the biggest thing for us is putting points on the board.”
The senior gave Florence its first lead of the game after he stole the ball away from a Holland player mid-dribble, sprinted down the lane and drew a foul.
Vaughn sank the pair of free throws, but the Hornets quickly answered and tied the score 12-12 at the end of the first quarter.
Josh Evans started the next period with a shot from the outside. Bryce Bowling followed suit and the Hornets never looked back.
The Buffs tried to rally but their shots weren’t sinking and the defense struggled to find an answer to the 6-foot-6 Frei, who led Holland with 20 points.
Florence finished 1-2 in the tourney and took the experience as a weekend of learning.
“I think the biggest takeaway, honestly, is playing a lot of games,” Vaughn said. “Last year we had five seniors starting and a lot of us juniors looked up to them.
“But now for us, the five seniors playing, we’re stepping into those roles and learning how to do things as a team together.
“We took a lot of good shots throughout this tournament,” he added. “So we have to get a couple more shots in and hopefully get some of them to fall.”
The Buffs play Rosebud-Lott on Tuesday before their District 25-3A opener Dec. 18 at Blanco.