Houston senior Kyle Poynter scores as he's fouled by Licking's Ben Denbow in the second half of Tuesday's game.

LICKING — The Houston Tigers built a big enough lead to withstand a late rally from its county rival.

Licking managed to trim a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to five with 1:44 left in the game. But the Tigers made just enough free throws and defensive stops to hold onto a 62-53 road victory Tuesday night.

“We were bending and never broke,” Houston coach Brent Hall said. “I think that’s a good start for the team heading into a majority of our conference play.”

It was the second win in four days for Houston against Licking. The Tigers beat the Wildcats 50-45 Saturday night in the consolation final of the Liberty Tournament.

Those two victories, combined with a 55-19 rout of Naylor on Thursday, gave Houston (7-9) its first three-game winning streak of the season.

“I don’t know how to act,” Hall joked. “We got a little pressure and it shook us a little bit, but we came through.”

Senior Kyle Poynter scored 12 of his game-high 24 points at the free-throw line. Curry Van Horn hit three 3-pointers en route to 11 points, and center Justin Buchholz scored a season-best 10 points off the bench.

It was easily the best outing of the season for Buchholz, who has been slowed by illnesses and forced to sit out several games due to missing practices.

“That’s what he can do. That’s what we’ve been waiting for all year,” Hall said. “He’s had some struggles. I’m just hoping tonight is his coming-out party for the rest of the year.”

Van Horn drilled a triple at the end of the first quarter to make it 11-7, and the Tigers led 22-13 at the half.

Houston scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to go ahead 50-33 with 5:55 left. An 18-6 run pulled Licking within five at 1:44, but the Tigers scored six unanswered points at the foul line to hold off the Wildcats’ rally.

On Saturday, Poynter scored 26 points in Houston’s first victory against Licking. Jesse Setters and Kaleb Poynter added eight points apiece.

In Thursday’s 36-point victory against Naylor, Kyle Poynter scored 17 points and Setters had 10.

JUNIOR VARSITY: Jacob Kelly hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 14 points in the JV Tigers’ 52-36 loss Tuesday at Licking.

Lucas Cooperman scored eight points and Kevin Dunn hit a pair of triples for Houston, which trailed 33-15 at the half.

On Friday, Cooperman drilled five 3-pointers en route to 17 points in Houston’s 48-35 loss to Alton at the Liberty Invitational.

Rodney Preheim added nine points for the Tigers, who trailed by four before being outscored 19-10 in the fourth quarter.

Box scores

VARSITY

Tuesday’s game

Houston 11 11 20 20 — 62

Licking 7 6 20 20 — 53

HOUSTON (7-9) — Van Horn 4 0-0 11. Buchholz 4 2-3 10. KyPoynter 6 12-20 24. Setters 3 1-2 9. KaPoynter 1 0-0 2. CScheets 2 0-0 4. Totals 20 15-25 62.

LICKING — McDowell 1 1-2 3. THood 2 0-0 6. Settles 2 0-0 6. Denbow 3 5-6 11. Jones 3 4-5 10. Hunt 2 0-0 5. Sullins 1 0-0 3. Vestal 1 1-2 3. JHood 2 0-0 4. Porter 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 11-15 62.

3-pointers: Houston 5 (Van Horn 3, Setters 2); Licking 6 (THood 2, Settles 2, Hunt, Sullins).

Saturday’s game

Houston 15 11 13 11 — 50

Licking 9 9 14 13 — 45

HOUSTON (6-9) — Van Horn 1 0-0 3. KyPoynter 9 6-10 26. Setters 3 0-0 8. Walker 1 0-0 3. KaPoynter 2 4-4 8. CScheets 1 0-0 2. JScheets 0 0-2 0. Totals 18 10-16 50.

LICKING — McDowell 1 0-0 3. THood 4 1-2 10. Denbow 1 9-10 11. Jones 2 0-2 4. Sullins 2 0-0 5. Vestol 1 0-0 2. JHood 1 4-5 6. Totals 14 14-19 45.

3-pointers: Houston 6 (KyPoynter 2, Setters 2, Van Horn, Walker); Licking 3 (McDowell, THood, Sullins).

Thursday’s game

Houston 18 15 12 10 — 55

Naylor 4 5 8 2 — 19

HOUSTON (5-9) — Van Horn 3 1-1 8. Buchholz 1 3-4 5. KyPoynter 7 3-6 17. Setters 4 0-0 10. KaPoynter 3 0-0 6. CScheets 0 2-2 2. JScheets 2 2-4 6. Totals 20 11-17 55

NAYLOR — Kouech 4 0-0 8. Bridgers 2 0-0 5. ZBryeon 1 0-2 3. Rhodes 1 1-1 3. Totals 8 0-3 19.

3-pointers: Houston 3 (Setters 2, Van Horn); Naylor 2 (Bridges, ZBryeon).

JUNIOR VARSITY

Tuesday’s game

Houston 8 7 11 10 — 36

Licking 13 20 10 9 — 52

HOUSTON — Preheim 1 0-2 2. Buchholz 2 0-0 4. Dunn 2 0-0 6. Kelly 5 2-3 14. Cooperman 2 3-4 8. Walker 0 2-4 2. Totals 12 7-12 36.

3-pointers: Houston 5 (Dunn 2, Kelly 2, Cooperman).

Friday’s game

Houston 5 6 14 10 — 35

Alton 9 3 17 19 — 48

HOUSTON — Preheim 4 1-2 9. Dunn 1 0-0 3. Ashworth 0 3-4 3. Kelly 1 0-0 3. Cooperman 6 0-0 17.

3-pointers: Houston 6 (Cooperman 5, Dunn).

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