Cold shooting freezes Hancock boys

February 27, 1997


Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK - The longer the game wore on, the more Jeff Spielman found himself rubbing his eyes in disbelief.

His Hancock boys basketball team shot a miserable 23 percent from the field Wednesday night and dropped a 72-64 decision to Northern Garrett in the final regular-season game for both teams. The same two teams meet again Monday in the quarterfinals of the 1A West region playoffs.

"That's the worst we've shot all season," said Spielman. "We've had bad games, but at least we were able to put the ball in the hole. I can't believe the number of layups we missed. We didn't stop hustling, we didn't stop playing, we just couldn't score."

Despite the poor shooting performance, the Panthers weren't out of the game until the closing minutes of the fourth period. Northern Garrett managed to sink 14 of its 18 free throw attempts, and all seven of its shots from the floor in the final eight minutes.


Trailing by 11 to open the fourth, Hancock closed the gap to 50-49 at the 4:52 mark with a 16-6 rally. But the Huskies responded with a 10-4 run, sparked by a Nathan Long three-point play, forcing the Panthers to foul.

"The deeper you dig the hole, the harder it is to crawl back out," said Spielman. "We had to gamble some. Sometimes it paid off and sometimes it didn't. We were pressing them, and we got some steals out of it, but we also gave up some easy baskets. When you're down, you can't afford to trade baskets. You have to outscore them."

Hancock's shooting woes (17 percent in the first three periods) allowed Northern Garrett to hold the lead it established at the 6:27 mark of the first quarter. The advantage reached 15 points midway through the second period.

Spielman said that he doesn't expect the loss to be demoralizing for his squad in Monday's rematch.

"I have to believe we'll bounce back," he said. "Deep in our hearts we know we can win. All we need to do is put the ball in the basket."

Eric Appel led the Panthers with 12 points, while Justin Martinez added 11 and Gary Hensley and Danny Shirley chipped in 10 apiece.

Scott Sisler finished with 21 for the Huskies, followed by Nathan Long and Zach Leverenz with 13 each, and Dustin Long with 12.

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