By JAMES COOK
---- — Frankfort came into Monday’s regional semifinal with one more loss than Baldwin.
They left with one more win.
Frankfort received a giant boost in a stunning 69-65 overtime victory from one of its most diminutive players — freshman Kole Hollenbeck.
“He was killing us,” said Baldwin coach Scott Pedigo, whose team ended the season 18-5. “He threw up some shots. They weren’t really orthodox shots, but they fell in for him. He even threw a little hook up and it went in. He was a guy we weren’t expecting to score many points. Sometimes that’s what you need to win games like this, is other people to chip in.”
With Brandon Schaub suffering from the flu, the 5-8 guard came off the bench and played more minutes than normal late. He responded with a career-high 10 points, hitting two buckets late in regulation to get Frankfort (19-5) within two and then scoring six of his team’s 10 points in overtime — including a floater one minute into OT that gave Frankfort its very first lead of the game.
“Kole stepped up tonight,” said Frankfort forward David Loney, whose bucket off a Mason Loney assist with 18 ticks left sent the contest into OT. “We were waiting for him to play like this all year because we know he can. He’s been a little shy. He showed tonight he could play with the big boys.”
The freshman has been the team’s sixth man much of the season, but hasn’t been put in much of a role where he’s counted on to score.
He wasn’t even sure what prior to Monday was his best game.
“Four or five points?” Hollenbeck tried to recall.
He scored that many in overtime alone of one the biggest game of the season so far.
“He has ice in his veins,” Frankfort coach Reggie Manville said. “I’ve never seen him get mad. I’ve never seen him get all that excited. He’s level-headed.”
A minute into overtime, his floater in the lane gave Frankfort a 61-59 lead — its first of the night.
“He’s as cool as a cucumber — all the time,” Frankfort assistant coach Matt Stapleton said. “And that’s pretty amazing for a freshman.”
On Frankfort’s next possession, Hollenbeck not only scored an inside bucket for a 63-59 lead, but also drew the fifth foul on Baldwin’s best player, Brandon Childress, who left the game with 23 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
Hollenbeck followed that up with a bucket off an assist from fellow freshman Mason Loney to score Frankfort’s first six points of the extra session.
“The key to the game as far as the offense is concerned was Kole Hollenbeck,” Manville said. “So now I’m running out there with two 15-year-old kids. Not one, but two — and they came through. It’s amazing. Sometimes I forget how young we are. Then all of a sudden it hits me. He made some big baskets. And Mason played well. He’s in there banging and playing the big men.”