Hollis’ 37 is winning ingredient for Breakers

Play in the fourth quarter separates the good players from the great.

For the Santa Barbara Breakers, point guard Arnette Hollis came up clutch to help his team overcome a deficit entering the final period and claim a close 90-86 victory.

Hollis led all scorers with 37 points, a season high for any Breaker player this season.

Scoring 21 in the final 12 minutes, he cemented his reputation as a go-to player down the stretch after stepping up and tallying double figures in the fourth quarter for the third consecutive game.

“There’s a saying: ‘you feed the horse,’” Breakers forward Derrick O’Neill said. “If [somebody’s on,] you give him the ball and get out of the way. I think we did a good job of
finding who was hot and letting him go.”

Known as a fourth quarter team, averaging 41 points per game, Santa Barbara entered the period down four points, having been down as many as many as seven points in the third. Hollis scored four of the team’s first six points of the period, all in transition, and equalized the score at 65 within one minute of play.

“Arnette Hollis had a great game,” Breakers coach Curt Pickering said. “He kept attacking the basket. He was a big factor.”

Despite a 10-2 run to begin the quarter, the Breakers lost the lead. After going down 77-80, the Breakers switched into a 2-1-2 zone. The move paid off, as Santa Monica shot just 19 percent from behind the arc.

“If they’re going to be so athletic in all five positions, we aren’t going to try to match up with them,” Pickering said. “The zone was effective. They missed a lot of jumpers.”

Then, down by one, Hollis hit a 3 to give his team an 86-84 lead, a lead that was never relinquished. Nevertheless, Santa Monica held possession of the ball for the final possession and missed numerous attempts, including three 3’s that would’ve given the Jump the win. Finally, Hollis came up with a steal and sank two free throws to ice the game.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” O’Neill said. “You have to keep your composure and it comes down to whoever hits hardest coming down the stretch. We got some key rebounds, some big defensive stops and fortunately they were unable to hit the three pointer (at the end).”

Free throws proved crucial and easily could’ve changed the final result. While Santa Barbara shot 8-10 from the stripe in the fourth quarter, Santa Monica hit a dismal 5-11 (45 percent).

For the Jump, point guard Franklin Sessions stepped up down the stretch, tallying 10 of his 19 points in the fourth.

“In the first half, I think [Sessions] was a bit passive and was trying to get his teammates involved,” Hollis said. “But after a while, good players try to take games over.”

Santa Barbara improves to 4-1 with the victory while the Jump fall to 2-4.

The first quarter saw low point totals (17-12) from both teams due to intense defensive pressure and missed shots on both ends.

“I was amazed [at the low total],” Pickering said. “There was so much talent and athleticism on the floor. I think the intensity was there for both teams.”

While the Breakers entered the second half with a six point lead, it quickly disappeared halfway through the quarter, mainly due to the Jump’s offensive rebounding. Santa Monica grabbed 23 offensive boards compared to the Breakers’ 13.

“It was 56-63 and we were like stuck in the mud,” Pickering said. “We were allowing them to penetrate and get offensive rebound after rebound, which led to tip-ins. Things were looking bleak. We called a timeout and we started getting back to the basics of the game.”

O’Neill finished with 18 points on 6-8 shooting, 11 rebounds, four assists and five steals while Greg Somogyi posted 16 points and six blocks. Meanwhile, big men Tyquan Brown and
Ricky Boyles anchored Santa Monica’s offense, tallying 18 and 22 points, respectively. They also combined for 29 rebounds.

The Breakers look to capture three consecutive victories next Saturday in a rematch against the Los Angeles Advantage.