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Panthers' hunch pays

February 15, 2002

Panthers' hunch pays



By BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent


Hancock 48, Grace 46

GRACE ACADEMY (46)

Jo. Barnhart 15, Ja. Barnhart 14, Lum 6, Lantz 3, Carver 6, Brunner 2. Totals 18 2-5 46.

HANCOCK (48)

Newton 7, Robair 3, Wills 17, Poffenberger 8, Fling 13. Totals 19 5-6 48.

Grace1518112-46

Hancock1712172-48

Threepoint goals-Grace 6 (Ja. Barnhart 3, Jo. Barnhart 2, Lantz), Hancock 5 (Wills 3, Robair , Newton). JV- Hancock, 51-42 (G: Zack Koontz 15).



HANCOCK - Hancock boys basketball coach Jeff Spielman had always heard the expression "less may often times be more."

Now he can prove it.

When the Panthers couldn't use their high-octane offense to get away from Grace Academy on Thursday, they turned to a more deliberate game, holding the ball for more than seven minutes in the final quarter to scratch out a 48-46 win over the Knights.

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Hancock showed its hand two minutes into the final period when Jeremy Newton stood at half court with the basketball under one arm, waiting for the Knights to unpack their 2-3 zone.

It was a ploy that Grace coach Bill Jones would not fall for.

The zone had allowed the Knights to double team Hancock's 6-foot-7 Brandon Fling while putting the pressure on the Panthers' perimeter game.

Try as they may, the Panthers (15-6) could not spread the floor to loosen up the middle.

"Personally, I thought they were doing us a favor," Jones said. "We knew we couldn't play a straight man defense with them and we had been getting some good looks at the basket, so we decided to be patient."

But if patience is a virtue, you couldn't have sold a small cup of it to the large Hancock crowd looking for the Panthers' run-and-gun style.

Spielman decided to play a strong hunch.

"I looked up at the scoreboard and we had five fouls to their one in a two-point game," Spielman said. "I did the math - if we let them shoot from the line the entire fourth quarter, our chances were slim to beat that team."

The Knights rallied behind Josh and Jared Barnhart and used a 13-0 run just before the half for a 33-29 lead. The Knights led for most of the third quarter until the Panthers closed it with an eight-point run for a 46-44 lead.

Grace (10-9) successfully tied up Fling on the inside, but Chris Wills paced Hancock with 17.

Fling managed a turnaround jumper in the paint with 31 seconds to play for the the winning score.

The winning basket came after Grace capitalized on an errant pass with a Josh Barnhart layup to tie the game at 46-46.

Grace had an opportunity to grab the lead with 40 seconds remaining after another Hancock mistake, but the Knights missed a wide open layup which was rebounded by Fling for an outlet pass to John Poffenberger, who returned the ball to his center for the winning score.

The Knights failed on two shots in the last 15 seconds to allow the Panthers to hang on.

"We got away with one," Spielman said.

H

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