Panthers find their path

February 18, 2005|by TIM KOELBLE

HANCOCK - Colleges periodically host prospective students seeking their path for the future in a Career Night.

Jeff Willison and Brad Spielman had their own versions of Career Night on Thursday as the two recorded personal scoring achievements, leading Hancock to a 76-61 victory over Musselman.

The 6-foot-7 Willison dominated the paint with his size advantage, hitting 13 of 18 shots on the way to 30 points, the first time in his career he has reached that number. Out front, Spielman terrorized Musselman with five 3-point goals and hit 8 of 12 on the way to a career-best 23 points.

"Getting 30 feels good, but the guards we have are the ones that get me the ball," said Willison, who also snared 24 of Hancock's 36 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass.


Willison had 10 points in the opening quarter and it didn't seem to faze the undermanned Applemen (5-14), whose tallest player was 6-foot-2 and who also were missing two players, one to an injury and one who quit the team Thursday during the day.

Other than getting a win and 53 points from two key seniors, Hancock head coach Jeff Spielman was still looking for a few additional positives in the win, the Panthers' 18th in 20 outings.

"I wasn't happy with our turnovers (20) and our shot selection early in the game was not good," he said. "Some of the shots were not good unless we went inside (to Willison). Defensively, we weren't as sharp, but Alex (Younkers) was one all over defensively."

Younker supported the Panthers' scoring with 13 points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter. He also hit two 3-pointers.

If Hancock had poor shot selection, there weren't many missed shots as the Panthers ended 27 of 46 for 59 percent and that included 8 of 14 beyond the arc.

"We're fortunate that when we take Jeff out of the game we have four guards that can make up for lack of size," said Jeff Spielman.

Musselman led once, 10-9, with 4:10 remaining in the first quarter on a goal by Chris Butler. The Applemen fell behind for good, 16-13, 1:10 later when Brad Spielman drained a 3 from the top of the key.

By halftime, Willison had 14 points and 10 rebounds as Hancock led, 38-29. The Panthers extended the margin to 53-36 on a 9-2 run midway through the third quarter that included four points from Willison and a trey from Spielman.

After a minirun caused by a trapping Musselman defense that created three turnovers, the Applemen opened the fourth quarter with baskets by Tim Sanders and Joey Pletcher that helped dwindle the deficit to 58-47.

Hancock answered, after a time out, with a quick 8-2 splurge.

"The big guy (Willison) was just too tough to defend with our size," said Musselman coach Derek Basile. "Sanders is out part of the game (foul trouble), but we played hard and made some good things happen with the trapping defense. But, we didn't make our shots."

Basile said the Applemen, who hit 26 of 62 for 41 percent, normally average 35 percent shooting.

Allen Kees had 14 points to lead Musselman, Chris Butler followed with 14 and Sanders, who picked up his third personal foul in the first half, had 12 before fouling out.

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