West Hancock Team Info
Eureka Team Info
The West Hancock Titans (13-1) repeated as
Macomb-Western Holiday Tournament champs, tipping the Eureka
Hornets 49-48 in the title match Saturday night. It is the
second tournament championship for the West Hancock co-op, but a
first for their veteran head coach Reno Pinkston, who missed the
final day of competition last year to attend his son’s wedding.
The Most Valuable Player trophy is headed
back to Hamilton, too. Drake Hammel made sure of that. The West
Hancock junior was a man on a mission in the title game. Hammel
poured in 29 points, grabbed five rebounds, handed out five
assists, and swiped six steals in a dominant performance.
Hammel, who led the tournament with 91 points scored in four
games, became the second player from Hamilton High School to win
the MVP award, following his former teammate Logan Dorethy’s
award last year.
Just a he did in West Hancock’s 46-42
semifinal win over Monmouth-Roseville, Hammel saved his best
plays for when the game was on the line. He had two take-aways
in the final minute, including a steal and break-away lay up
that put the Titans ahead 49-45 with 45 seconds to play.
Adam Anderson drained a three-pointer on
Eureka’s (12-5) next possession and the Hornets’ press forced a
turnover to gain possession with 20 seconds remaining. But just
as quickly, Hammel picked the Eureka ball-handler’s pocket near
midcourt, dived on to the court, and pushed the ball toward the
West Hancock basket where the Titans were able to run the loose
ball down and call timeout calming a wild exchange with 11
seconds to go.
The Hornets were far from done, however.
West Hancock was sent to the line and missed the front-end of a
one-and-bonus. Eureka raced down the court, but could not get a
shot off because Hammel committed a foul with 0.6 seconds, and
West Hancock had a foul to give. The Titans were able to tap
away the ensuing in-bounds pass on a lob attempt to Keegan
Zimmerman from the end line, ending the Hornets’ chances of
winning their first ever MWHT title in their eighth attempt.
The game was truly an epic struggle,
featuring a pair of IBCA Hall of Fame coaches, eight ties, seven
lead changes, and a marquee matchup between West Hancock’s
Hammel and Eureka’s Zimmerman. Neither side was able to gain
more than a five-point lead in the first half, as both squads
shot over 50 percent from the field.
Ahead 25-22 at intermission, West Hancock
enjoyed the better of play in the third quarter. Hammel tallied
nine points in the frame, including seven during a 9-2 run that
gave West Hancock its largest lead at 34-25 with 3:20 to play in
Eureka coach Tim Meiss turned to freshman
Trevor Heffren for a spark and he delivered for the Hornets.
After sitting out the entire first half, Heffren buried his
first three shot attempts, recording eight points in under five
minutes to bring Eureka to within one, 38-37, with 6:40 left in
From there, fans were treated to a
late-night duel between Hammel and Zimmerman. West Hancock
scored the next six points, including back-to-back lay ups by
Lucas Dorethy set up by nifty passes by Hammel and Peyton
Dooley. Zimmerman then went off, drilling a pair of
three-pointers followed by a lay up to tie the game at 45 with
2:06 to go.
But the Hornets never did get a shot up to
take the lead as they suffered turnovers on their next three
possessions. It was unfortunately a familiar refrain for Eureka,
which was outscored 19-3 in points off turnovers on the night.
Zimmerman led Eureka with 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting to go
with five boards. He was named to the 10-member All-Tournament
team. He is the first Hornet to make the All-Tournament team
since Tate Taufer in 2013. Alex Brittain and Adam Anderson
recorded eight points and five rebounds each for Eureka as well.
Peyton Dooley joined Hammel on the
All-Tournament team. Dooley had 12 points, three assists, and
three steals in the title game. West Hancock’s starting five
played the entire 64 minutes of both games played on Saturday.
In fact, the Titans had only five players record a point over
the four games played in the entire tournament. West Hancock is
the 11th school to repeat as tournament champs and
the first since Rockridge won a record-tying three consecutive