By FRANK CASH
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
WARSAW, Ill. -- Coy Dorothy showed Tuesday night his passing abilities aren't limited to the football field.
With the West Hancock boys basketball team clinging to a three-point lead over Illini West with 39.1 seconds left, a play was designed for Dorothy to throw an inbounds pass from the left sideline to Paxton Harmon who was flashing to the basket from the right wing.
The play worked to perfection. Not only did Dorothy -- a record-setting quarterback on the West Hancock football team -- connect with Harmon in stride, but he threaded the pass between a couple of defenders.
"That just shows what kind of a passer Coy is," said Harmon, who scored on the play. "He's a great passer in football, and he's the best passer on the basketball team. No doubt that was a big play."
It turned out to be crucial for West Hancock.
Harmon's bucket extended the Titans' lead to two possessions, and they survived with a 45-44 victory in the Hancock County Tournament.
The victory is the second of the tournament for West Hancock, which is looking to win its first outright title in the event since the co-op was formed prior to the 2008-09 season. The Titans (14-3) will play Southeastern on Friday and Keokuk on Saturday.
West Hancock coach Reno Pinkston won't be caught looking ahead because there are areas that need addressed.
"We're not guarding people like we're accustomed to doing," Pinkston said. "Until we realize how important defense is to the game of basketball, we're not going to be very good at it. We had chances to put Illini West away tonight, but we didn't because we didn't play very good defense."
One of those opportunities came after West Hancock took a 26-17 lead on Austin Hardy's two free throws with 3:09 left in the second quarter. The Chargers rallied to take a 27-26 lead when Levi Kirby scored off an assist from Ethan Neally on the first possesion of the third quarter.
Illini West (7-6) led only one other time, after Brayden Carroll connected on a three-point play for a 38-36 lead with 5:11 left in the game. But West Hancock could never put the Chargers away.
"We did a good job playing with them," Illini West coach John Hughs said. "We were resilient with a little bit of a never-say-die attitude."
Carroll played a big part in keeping Illini West in the game. The junior guard came off the bench to score six of his eight points in the fourth quarter.
After Harmon scored off Dorothy's pass, Carroll threw an inbounds pass to Levi Kirby who scored, was fouled and made a free throw to shrink the Titans' lead to 43-41 with 22.1 seconds left. The Chargers then fouled Dorothy, whose two free throws extended the lead to 45-41 with 13.5 seconds left.
Carroll hit a 3-pointer with seven-tenths of a second remaining for the final margin.
"Brayden got going a little bit for us in the fourth quarter and did some things we've been waiting to see," Hughs said. "That's good to see. We need another threat to go with Brody (Gronewold)."
Gronewold finished with 17 points, 13 of those in the first half. He was overshadowed by Harmon, who also scored 13 before halftime but finished with 27 points.
"It definitely wasn't easy. I had to work a lot," Harmon said. "(Illini West) made it hard on me. But that's the way it usually is against them. They're going to make you work for everything you get."