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Titans Beat the Suns

December 2, 2013
Warsaw High School

AUGUSTA, Ill. — The West Hancock Titans played to their strengths in the boys basketball season opener Wednesday.

West Hancock fired the ball from three-point range and played tough defense, especially in the fourth quarter, to defeat Southeastern 47-45 in the Suns Classic Tournament Wednesday.

West Hancock attempted 28 three-pointers among its 42 shot attempts. The Titans finished with nine for the game, but they were 6 of 10 from behind the arc in the second half.

“I thought we would shoot 30 (threes),” said West Hancock Head Coach Reno Pinkston. “That’s our M.O. We’ve got to play that way. If we miss a bunch in a row, we’re going to keep shooting them. Look at the guys I’ve got and what we have to do with them. When they are ready to shoot, they are going to shoot it. That means your teammates know to go get the rebound, and if you don’t put it back up, kick it our for another three. We’re going to use that line, obviously, and that is not going to change.”

Jonathan Ferguson and Trevor Knipe opened the fourth quarter with three-pointers to give West Hancock a 36-31 lead. Geoffrey Stout answered with a three-pointer for Southeastern, but Drew Beeler scored on a drive to the basket, and Devin Rings dropped in another three to put the Titans on top 41-34.

Knipe hit two free throws with 2:32 left to give West Hancock a 43-36 lead, but the Suns used the free throw line to pull to within three. Southeastern made 4 of 6 foul shots, while West Hancock failed to convert on three straight trips to the line.

The Suns had a chance to tie the game, but Stout missed a three-pointer. Winston Smith grabbed the offensive rebound, but couldn’t convert. Smith fouled Jeramey Marshall with 32 seconds remaining, and the West Hancock senior made both free throws to stretch the lead to five.

Dexter Redenius replaced Smith, who had fouled out, and made a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two, but Knipe hit two more free throws with 22 seconds left to stretch the margin to 47-43. Southeastern scored the final points of the game on an offensive rebound at the buzzer.

Southeastern was just 4 of 15 from the field and committed six of its 15 turnovers in the final quarter.

“When we play our defense correctly we are rotating to the ball and scrambling on second-man rotation. When we are really playing good defense, it’s when we are pressuring the ball,” Pinkston said. “In the first half (Southeastern) shot two threes and the guy with the ball was the one who shot it. It wasn’t off the dribble penetration and kick, so that means we had our hands down and daring him to shoot it. In the second half when they were trying to get the ball inside to (Shea Flesner), I kept telling our guys, ‘The reason why they are able to throw it to him is because we weren’t pressuring the ball well enough.’ We don’t have a margin of error that we have had in the past due to a lack of size, so we have to have good ball-pressure, we have to have early work in the post and good help-side. When one of those three things are missing, a lot of times it turns into a lay-up or a foul. We don’t have a margin of error for that, so we have to shore that up.”

Flesner scored 10 points in the third quarter, but was held to a field goal and two free throws in the fourth quarter. He finished with a team-high 17 points.

“We were cognizant of where he was,” Pinkston said. “He’s their best player, and he has gotten bigger from last year. He’s able to face the basket now and take you off the dribble baseline or toward the middle. He creates a match-up problem for no matter who we have guarding him. We have to get the right kind of help where we scissor off and rotate after it, and we’ll work on that. He’s one of those unusual players who has size and can post, but he can also step out on the perimeter.”

Rings led West Hancock with 18 points. Knipe added 13 points. Ferguson tossed in six points. Beeler had four points and 10 rebounds. Marshall scored four points, and Cole Fox finished with two points.

West Hancock plays two more games in the Suns Classic. The Titans take on Central at 6 p.m. today and Unity at 6 p.m. Saturday.

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