Indians go to the line to put away rival Panthers

December 30, 2004|by BILL STERNER/Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK - The rematch was a mismatch in the nightcap of the Hancock Holiday Classic between longtime rivals Berkeley Springs and Hanock.

Last year, as tournament finalists, the finesse of the Indians' guards and the breakaway speed of the Panthers accounted for an exciting and high-scoring affair with Hancock winning its first tournament title in a decade.

But this time, the two girls basketball teams slugged it out by playing tough defense, laced with emotion and intensity before a packed house, as the Tribe prevailed 37-34 Wednesday to advance to the championship game.

Berkeley Springs will play Southern Fulton, which advanced easily in a 60-26 win over Clear Spring behind 21 points from Sam Cain, tonight in the championship game.


Getting there was much tougher for Berkeley Springs, which allowed Hancock to erase two eight-point deficits before sealing the victory in the final six seconds.

Heather Shaw and Emily McCoy went to the foul line 10 times down the stretch, hitting eight, to help the Indians hold on.

"Honestly, when Hancock plays Berkeley Springs in anything, you can forget being able to predict any outcomes," said a relieved Berkeley Springs coach Dale McCumbee. "We knew there would be a lot of emotion with the crowd and intensity on the floor, but during our shoot-around today, I never thought we would need to win it like this."

In fact, McCumbee said the Indians' starters stayed an extra hour after the shoot-around to practice foul shooting.

"I don't know if they knew something was up or not, but they all stayed and worked on the free throws," McCumbee said. "It really paid off. Ask these kids what foul shots do and they will tell you they win big games."

Both teams shot well from the foul line. Hancock hit 11 of its 14 chances, including a 10-for-11 night by Dana Beavers.

After Jennifer Willison muscled in a layup to give the Panthers their first lead with 3:30 remaining, Hancock went frigid from the floor. The Panthers only scored eight baskets in the game.

"We had too many empty trips down the floor," said Hancock coach Rocky Wills. "We didn't shoot well and we were timid in our shooting. But these kids didn't quit. They played their guts out."

"I'm proud of our effort," McCumbee said. "These kids play as a team. Not everyone got in the book tonight, but every kid on the bench contributed in some way."

In the opener, Southern Fulton jumped out to a 23-10 lead after the first quarter and owned a 40-13 advantage at the half before coasting to the victory.

Candace Bard had 10 to support Cain for the Indians.

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