Reserves help West Hancock beat Suns to move into Hancock County title game

Posted: Jan. 12, 2013 1:04 am Updated: Feb. 2, 2013 2:15 am

Herald-Whig Sports Writer

WARSAW, Ill. -- There are a lot of offensive weapons on the West Hancock boys basketball team's bench.

Several of those players received plenty of opportunities to contribute Friday night.

With starting senior guard Coy Dorothy in street clothes resting a knee he injured earlier this week, players like Trevor Knipe, Ryan Morrison and Devin Rings played a big role in helping the Titans distance themselves from Southeastern during the second quarter.

Knipe's 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer gave West Hancock a 17-point lead en route to a 50-26 victory in the Hancock County Tournament.

Rings had a rebound putback during the second quarter and Morrison drained a long 3-pointer.

"With Coy out, some other guys got a chance to come in and show what they could do," said Austin Hardy, another starting senior guard. "They came out, hit some shots and took care of the ball. They did what they needed to."

The victory sets up the tournament championship game. The Titans, now 15-3 and 3-0 in the round-robin tournament, will play Keokuk at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Chiefs (10-2) had a bye from the tournament Friday but beat Fort Madison 60-50 in a regular-season game.

"At 10 o'clock tomorrow morning, we'll have plenty to work on," said West Hancock coach Reno Pinkston, who will try to coach a team to an outright Hancock County title for the first time since he led Warsaw/Nauvoo-Colusa in 2008. "They've got great size that we'll have to keep off the boards. We'll need to keep a hand in their shooters' faces, and we'll have to be ready for their 1-3-1 zone defense."

Southeastern (9-9) paid a lot of attention to Paxton Harmon early in the game. It wasn't enough.

Harmon -- the Titans' leading scorer -- scored 11 of his game-high 21 points during the first quarter as West Hancock grabbed a 14-5 lead.

Harmon commanded the respect of Suns head coach Todd Fox.

"Paxton is so smooth, so composed," Fox said. "It's been a long time since I've seen a player in this area who is as college ready as he is. No matter how you try to defend him, he makes you pay."

It didn't surprise the Titans that Harmon would be the focal point of Southeastern's defensive efforts.

"We knew (Southeastern) would have a red light out for Paxton, and we prepared for it," Pinkston said. "We had a great practice yesterday to prepare for this game. Our ball seals were excellent. Our spacing was excellent. We were ready."

Southeastern opened the second half with a 6-2 run, cutting the lead to 34-20 on Alex Thompson's 3-pointer from the left corner with four minutes left in the third quarter. West Hancock proceeded to score the next 14 straight points over the next 6:52.

Fox is anxious to see how his team wraps up the tournament when it plays Unity at 6 p.m. Saturday.

"There are several reasons we're considered the area's most improved team," Fox said. "Did we show it tonight? No. The true test is how we come back and respond tomorrow night. We haven't been blown out like this all year. I'll be interested to see how we bounce back."


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