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Indians trap Panthers

December 19, 1998|By BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK - Berkeley Springs basketball coach Mick Pentoney believes in the saying: "Sometimes you eat the tiger, and sometimes the tiger eats you."

But he put a different spin on it for the Indians' game with rival Hancock, a 62-45 Berkeley Springs win. The key to winning was to control how much the tiger eats.

Pentoney knew that Hancock's 6-foot-8 center Derek Hoffman would be a force both on offense and defense. The Indians decided to let Hoffman play his game and force Hancock's other four starters to stare into the teeth of their half-court trapping defense. The gamble paid off for Berkeley Springs as Matt Omps scored 19 points, while 6-6 center Keith Davis added 18 to lead the Indians to the win over determined but outmatched Hancock.

For the Panthers, Hoffman had yet another outstanding effort using his signature style of muscle and finesse to score 25 points and pull down 12 rebounds. Several times he swatted balls off the backboard and denied intrusions of any type in the lane. And while Hancock never led, it kept the boisterous crowd entertained as twice in each half it overcame double digit defecits to pull to within eight points.

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But the Panthers could never quite matchup evenly with the Indians. Seventeen of the Panthers' 22 second-half points came off the touch of Hoffman. And Hancock coach Jeff Spielman felt the support was not there through most of the game.

"They are definitely a better team than us right now,'' Spielman said. "We have to get more involved in our offense as a team."

The Indians pushed their lead in the first half to 11 only minutes after the Panthers labored to pull to within three on a Hoffman turn-around jumper in the lane. The problem for the Panthers was that they were only playing well in spurts, while the Indians used these off times to score transition baskets and build the lead.

But Pentoney was not happy with the running style and low shooting percentage of his offense in the first half. After seeing the Indians shoot a frigid 25 percent, Pentoney decided he would slow things down.

"We obviously weren't comfortable with the running game," he said. "We decided to decrease the tempo in the second half."

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