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Hancock rides Willison to win over South

January 10, 2006|by KEVIN SPRADLIN / Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK - For South Hagerstown girls basketball coach Ray Singletary, using 5-foot-3 guard Laila Ali to defend Hancock's 5-9 Jennifer Willison on Monday was an unorthodox approach.

For Willison, it was a mismatch made in heaven.

Willison burned Ali and anyone else the Rebels assigned to her as part of a double-team. The Panthers cruised to a 49-32 nonleague win.

Hancock improved to 3-6, while South remained winless through five games.

"Coach tells us to look for the mismatches, and I found one tonight," Willison said after scoring 27 points, including 9-for-10 shooting from the free-throw line, and adding 23 rebounds.

With a shrug of her shoulders, Willison did not pretend to understand South's defensive assignments.

"But we definitely took advantage of it," Willison said.

With Hancock leading 19-9 midway through the second quarter, Willison hit a layup.

A minute later, with the Panthers leading 25-12, Willison struck again with the offensive rebound and putback.

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"If she wasn't getting everything, she at least had her hands on everything," Panthers coach Rocky Wills said. "That's what we do. We just try to get her the ball."

It wasn't for the Rebels' lack of effort or strategy that just about everything they tried in the first half failed.

"We had a game plan to make sure she didn't get those kinds of shots," Singletary said. "In the first quarter, we didn't execute."

Willison scored 12 points in the first quarter and eight more in the second. At halftime, the Panthers held a 29-15 lead. Hancock liberally substituted in the second half.

The Panthers, meanwhile, effectively limited South's top scorer, Sade Williams.

"She's gotta be our player," said Singletary after Williams was held scoreless for the final 17 minutes. "Their defense did a great job on her tonight. But for us to be competitive, she's got to get open."

Wills credited Meghan Chiaruttini and Holly Funk for disrupting Williams' attempts.

"Those two did a great job," Wills said. "Even the shots (Williams) made were hard ones. Every good player is going to find a way to put the ball in the basket."

Williams found the basket just three times. Her last field goal came on a jumper with 1:08 left in the second period.

Amy Clipp picked up the slack for Williams. Before she fouled out with 22 seconds left, Clipp took advantage of the Panthers' concentration on Williams. Clipp scored nine of her team-high 11 points in the second half.

"I knew that Sade was getting double teamed," Clipp said. That effort forced Clipp's teammates "to just give me the ball, and my shot just kept falling."

Singletary and the Rebels were forced to look for the positives. Despite the 17-point loss, it wasn't hard to find one. The Rebels came into the game allowing 61 points per per game.

"Under 50," Singletary said, highlighting the Panthers' offensive output.

Willison scored the first two points of game at the line. Williams' 3-pointer 1:48 into the first period gave South its first and only lead. Moments later, Willison grabbed her first of 10 offensive rebounds, and her layup made it 4-3 and the Panthers never trailed again.

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