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Westmar ousts Hancock

March 03, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK - Saturday's Class 1A West first round boys basketball game between Hancock and Westmar included NBA-range 3-pointers, monstrous blocked shots, ankle-breaking crossover dribbles and a raucous crowd.

In the end, however, it all came down to simple fundamentals.

Westmar overcame a sluggish first half and finally wrested the lead from Hancock with just under 30 seconds to play in the third quarter as the Wildcats hung on for a 54-47 victory.

Hancock, who led the game for more than 23 minutes, would never regain the lead, but did fight to within 48-47 with a minute to play.

"Sloppy," Westmar coach Rick Scalletta described it. "This was an ugly, ugly win, but I know it will look better in the morning."

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Hancock led early and trapped the Wildcats into an up-tempo game in the first half that Westmar was unprepared for. Panthers point guard Jeremy Newton pushed the ball up the floor and shooting guard Brad Spielman and big man Jeff Willison spotted the Panthers to a 26-18 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the half.

Although Hancock wasn't rebounding as well as coach Jeff Spielman had hoped, Newton was having his way with the Wildcats, making two 3s in the second quarter and scoring 13 points in the half.

"We knew we had to do something with Newton," Scalletta said. "He can beat you if you let him play."

So the Wildcats began rotating their defenses and keeping a fresh set of legs on Hancock's point guard.

The Panthers went into a scoring funk, getting only two Willison layups on offense in the entire third quarter. The fouls also mounted on Newton, who eventually fouled out early in the fourth.

"I think that was the biggest key - we had that dry spell in the third," Spielman said. "(Westmar) never got away from us, but we just couldn't catch up."

"We just didn't do some things we always do, especially tonight," Spielman added.

Just after Poffenberger's putback brought Hancock to within 48-47, the Wildcat's Bobby Alkire iced the game with a jumper in the lane and a pair of free throws after being fouled on a breakaway.

"It is a long season and with the weather knocking us out of school, we just had a tough time finding our sync," Spielman said. "I think the kids felt like they hadn't played or practiced for so long."

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