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Hancock saves its best for last

Panthers boys perfect fourth-quarter comeback to win title

Panthers boys perfect fourth-quarter comeback to win title

December 28, 2007|By CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Southern Fulton boys basketball team had its sights set on a feat of dynastic proportion Thursday night - a third consecutive Great Tri-State Shootout championship.

Hancock had another vision for the outcome of the 22nd installment of the tournament.

For the second straight night, Hancock mounted a fourth-quarter comeback, this time outscoring the Indians 16-4 in the last eight minutes to post a 38-32 victory for its first title since 2004.

"If only we didn't have to play the first three quarters," Panthers coach Ron Hose joked. "These guys have that mindset that they're never out of a game. Tonight, once it got going, it was almost like a feeding frenzy."

Hancock went 1-for-13 from the floor in the third quarter to fall behind 28-22 - the largest deficit of the game. The momentum seemed to be on the side of Southern Fulton, but the Panthers answered with an 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter to take a 33-28 lead.

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Hancock (4-4) had just one turnover in the fourth quarter - compared to seven for Southern Fulton - and hit 5 of 6 free throws to close out the game. Southern Fulton (6-4) got its first bucket in more than nine minutes when Josh Wertz scored a putback with 2:30 left to cut the score to 33-30.

That was as close as it got.

Steven Beaver scored six of his game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter. Beaver, Matt McCoy and Josh Unger each had two steals in the final period and the Panthers avenged a 69-59 loss at Southern Fulton on Dec. 15.

"Our intensity was a lot better tonight," Hose said. "We picked it up on defense, forced a couple of turnovers and knocked down a couple shots."

The teams battled through four ties and five lead changes in the first half, as Southern Fulton led 21-20 at the break. Indians senior Jeremy Clingerman, who hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the first half, went scoreless over the final 16 minutes.

Clear Spring, which fell victim to the Panthers in the opening round Wednesday night, answered nicely with a 70-60 win against Berkeley Springs in the consolation game.

The Blazers scored nearly one-third of their points from the free-throw line, hitting 21 of 42 shots.

"We struggled from the foul line, but I was satisfied with the way we came back from what could have been a devastating loss," said Clear Spring coach Mark Shives. "To come back out tonight and do what we did showed a little bit of character."

Clear Spring (5-2) led 46-41 going into the fourth quarter and Berkeley Springs cut the deficit to one possession twice early in the period. But the Blazers remained poised and extended the lead to double digits in the final minutes. They seemed to have already erased the memory 19-point lead they blew one night earlier.

"I thought that was the question, whether we could hold the lead," Shives said. "I know it sounds crazy, but I wanted it to be close in the fourth quarter because of what happened (Wednesday night)."

Jordan Thurber led five Clear Spring players in double figures with 15 points. Cody Englehart scored 13, while Keith Gilchrist, Kyle Crist and Brandon Glazer each had 11.

Joseph Wright led Berkeley Springs (0-6) with 17 points, Leonard Roach had 12 and Tommy Malone had nine. The Indians had four players foul out of the game.

ยท Unger was named tournament MVP, while Beaver and Jacob Foreman were named to the all-tournament team for Hancock. Southern Fulton's Lucas Mellott, Roach and Thurber also made the all-tournament team.

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