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Hancock County Invitational

January 16, 2011
Warsaw High School

Chargers hold off Titans, remain undefeated in tourney

West Hancock's Seth Pinkston defends a pass attempt from Illini West's Jack Bastert to teammate Evan McGaughey during Thursday's game in the Hancock County Invitational Tournament.
By Brad Cameron/Sports Editor
Published: Friday, January 14, 2011 2:37 PM CST AUGUSTA, Ill. -- West Hancock scratched and clawed its way back from a seven-point deficit with 78 seconds remaining to force overtime in dramatic fashion, but Illini West made enough plays in the extra period to remain undefeated in the Hancock County Invitational Tournament.

Illini West never trailed in the extra period, and the Chargers held on at the final buzzer to defeat the Titans 65-62 Thursday at Southeastern High School.

Illini West is the only team not to lose a game in the tournament. The Chargers play Southeastern today and Keokuk Saturday. Both games are at 7:30 p.m.

"We did enough to survive and move on to the next round," said Illini West Head Coach John Hughs. "We got one tonight in a tough game, in a tough environment. We're still 2-0 (in the tournament) and we want to win them all. That is our goal when we play every game. We have to take care of business the next two nights."

West Hancock took its first lead in the second half when Paxton Harmon converted a three-point play 15 seconds into the fourth quarter to put the Titans on top 39-38. Illini West regained the lead on a basket by Jack Bastert, but Harmon answered with a basket inside and a basket off an offensive rebound to give West Hancock its biggest lead of the game at 43-40.

West Hancock had made 17 of 26 field goal attempts (65.4 percent) up to that point in the game, but the Titans would go the next 5:17 without scoring a point. Illini West took advantage with a 10-0 run to build a 50-43 advantage with 1:18 left.

"We had chances to extend the lead, but missed some shots and missed a couple of free throws, and that allowed them to start a run right there," said West Hancock Head Coach Reno Pinkston. "Little plays like that can change the flow of the game and just the nature of it. If we extend the lead at that point, maybe they get a little bit more anxious instead of being willing to try and take a lot of time to get it inside to (Evan McGaughey). It does change the complexion of the game when you hit a few shots."

West Hancock battled back. Seth Pinkston scored on a drive to the basket, and the Titans called a timeout with 1:03 remaining. West Hancock extended its pressure defense and forced a turnover when Austin Boyer knocked the ball away from Cole Carson. Pinkston got the steal and lay-up to cut the margin to 50-47 with 43 seconds left in regulation.

Illini West failed to extend the lead on its next offensive possession. Trey Bartlett missed a lay-up, but Bastert was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound. West Hancock caught a break when Bastert missed both free throws, but the Titans turned the ball over with 30 seconds left. McGaughey was fouled a second later and made two free throws to push the lead to 52-47.

Nate Parker hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two points, and West Hancock called its final timeout with 10.9 seconds left to set up its press. The Titans got the turnover they needed when Illini West threw the inbound pass out-of-bounds.

West Hancock had a chance to tie when Harmon was fouled by Jack Carlisle driving to the basket. The Titans were not in the bonus situation, so they were forced to inbound the basketball.

West Hancock got the ball to Seth Pinkston, and Cody Carson was called for a hand-check foul with three seconds left. Pinkston made the first free throw to pull the Titans to within one, but the senior guard missed the second foul shot. Carlisle grabbed the rebound and was fouled.

Carlisle missed the first free throw but sank the second to give the Chargers a 53-51 lead. The made free throw, however, allowed West Hancock to set up one final play in regulation.

"We talked about (missing the second free throw)," Hughs said. "I didn't want a miss and then have them have an opportunity to beat us on a kickoff of a long rebound and stuff like that. To be honest, with the way Carlisle was shooting free throws, it was 50/50 if he was going to make it anyway. We talked about it as a staff and decided that wasn't the best way to go."

West Hancock threw a baseball pass to Schlicher at halfcourt. Schlicher caught the ball, turned to his left and drove straight to the basket for a lay-up. He got the shot off in time to tie the game and send the contest into overtime.

"West Hancock made some big shots, but our late game execution was poor," Hughs said. "We worked on that yesterday in practice, and we have to get better mentally as basketball players."

In the extra period, McGaughey made three of four free throws to give Illini West the lead, but Pinkston tied the game with a three-pointer. Cody Carson hit a baseline jumper to give Illini West the lead again at 58-56, but Clint Mecklenburg grabbed an offensive rebound and scored for West Hancock to tie the game again.

Free throws allowed the Chargers to take the lead for good. Bastert and McGaughey each made two foul shots to give Illini West a 62-59 lead, while Carlisle made one of two free throws to give the Chargers a 63-61 advantage with 31 seconds left.

"Even though we should have finished in regulation, give them credit for coming out ready to go in the overtime and getting the lead," Hughs said. "We got the ball into Evan in a situation where he could made a couple of free throws. Jack Bastert made a couple of free throws in a key situation. Those kids wanted the ball."

Schlicher had a chance to tie the game with two free throws, but missed the second foul shot. Bartlett grabbed the defensive rebound while falling down and his passed was saved by McGaughey from going out-of-bounds. Illini West was able to get a timeout with 16 seconds left, Cody Carson extended the lead to 65-62 with two more free throws.

Bartlett came away with a steal with nine seconds remaining, but he was not able to put West Hancock away at the free throw line. Bartlett missed both free throws, giving the Titans a chance to tie the game with a three.

West Hancock got the ball to Pinkston, but his contested off-balanced three-pointer fell short of the rim. McGaughey grabbed the rebound to end the game.

"Our kids played hard," coach Pinkston said. "Both teams played hard. I heard (Duke head coach Mike) Krzyzewski last night say, ‘Our kids played hard, (Florida State's) just played a little bit better.'

Fortunately for us we were able to go into overtime. It looked like we might not get there. They made some plays. They ran some nice sets and were able to get the ball inside at times, and they made some free throws when they had to. I thought Illini West did a really nice job, but I thought our kids played their butts off, too. Unfortunately, we couldn't get shots to fall at the end."

McGaughey scored a season-high 33 points to lead Illini West. Bastert finished with 10 points.

Pinkston had 16 points to pace West Hancock. Harmon and Schlicher each scored 12 points. Parker tossed in 11 points. Mecklenburg tallied six points, and Austin Hardy finished with three points.

West Hancock finishes the tournament against Unity at 6 p.m. today.

  Smith resigns as head football coach at Clark Co.

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