By Fred Inglis

HESPERIA – The Holton Red Devils have had a so-so season, and are fighting hard to reach the .500 mark.

But no matter what happens from this point forward, the Red Devils will have the pleasure of knowing they swept both regular season games from archrival Hesperia this season.

They completed that sweep in exciting fashion on Friday when Nathan Slowik sunk a pair of free throws in the final minute to seal a 41-38 victory over the Panthers in CSAA conference action.

Derek Pouch boxes out Hesperia’s Logan Balkema while No. 23 Aaron Herron looks for the rebound. Photo/Michael Cherry

Holton improved to 5-8 overall and 3-4 in conference play. Hesperia fell to 2-11 and 1-5.

“We were down at halftime, but we told the kids to calm down and we worked on our mindset,” said Holton head coach Mike Fosburg. “It’s a rivalry game, and we knew it was going to be close all the way, but we sorted it all out.”

Hesperia clung to a 21-18 halftime lead, but the visiting Red Devils used a 9-0 run to take a 27-26 lead after three quarters.

Holton seemed to be control after an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter gave it a 35-26 lead. Junior Derek Pouch scored six of his 10 points in the final quarter for Holton.

But Hesperia wasn’t finished. Senior guard Scott Peters scored seven points late in the game, pulling the Panthers within a point, 39-38, with 34 seconds remaining.

That’s when Slowik calmly made the free throws that allowed the Red Devils to ride back to Holton with smiles on their faces.

“I always know we are going to hustle, scrap, and fight,” said Hesperia head coach Doug Bolles. “But we struggle to score, and once again we hit that lull, but I’m still proud of my guys.”

Slowik led Holton with 12 points, six rebounds and four steals. Dalton Giddings finished with 10 points and eight rebounds while Pouch snagged 10 boards.

Hesperia was led by Peters with 12 points and four steals. Junior center Jacob Klemundt and freshman Isaac Parker each added seven points.