|West Hancock ran its Macomb-Western Holiday Tournament winning streak to 11 games, topping the Pittsfield Saukees 39-32 in the quarterfinal round Friday night. The Titans will be making their fourth consecutive semifinal appearance.|
In a matchup featuring the last three tournament champions (Pittsfield – 2016 and West Hancock – 2017 & 2018), the Saukees proved to be a worthy foe to the two-time defending title holders and No. 1 seed. Pittsfield (5-7) held the lead for most of the first quarter before Brady Boyer three-pointer gave West Hancock (9-2) a 9-8 lead.
It was a rare basket for the Titans, only because it was the Drake Hammel show in the first half for West Hancock. The reigning tournament MVP poured in 17 of his team’s 20 first half points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field. In fact, he took all but four shot attempts, and the only free throw, for his team before intermission.
Pittsfield remained unphased by the punches thrown at them, however. Down just 20-16 at halftime, the Saukees played West Hancock even in the third quarter. The Titans took a nine-point lead midway through the period, but Pittsfield battled back with a Noah Gay basket and late triple by Nate Scranton.
The Saukees eventually got within 27-24 early in the fourth quarter, but West Hancock rattled off the next ten points capped by five straight points by Colin LeMaire. His fast break lay up off a steal from Drew Martens with 4:30 to play capped the flurry with the Titans ahead 37-24. Unfortunately for Pittsfield, that play illustrated the 20-7 advantage West Hancock enjoyed in points off turnovers.
Even facing their largest deficit of the night, the Saukees still fought to the bitter end. Pittsfield tallied the next eight points as they climbed to with 37-32 after a Scranton trey with 37 seconds remaining. West Hancock missed the front-end of all three one-and-one opportunities, the last time giving Pittsfield one last chance, but a turnover with less than 20 seconds left dashed any desperation comeback hopes.
Hammel was the only player from either team scoring in double figures, finishing with 24 points. He added five boards, three assists, and two steals. LeMaire scored eight points, all in the second half. The Titans out-shot the Saukees 47 percent to 41 percent.
Will Guthrie secured a game-high eight rebounds and led the Saukees with eight points. He was one of six players, including the entire starting five for West Hancock, to play all 32 minutes of action.
Pittsfield will take on Macomb at 10:30am Saturday in the 5th place bracket, while West Hancock faces Farmington in the second semifinal scheduled for 2:30pm. Farmington was a 53-41 winner over Macomb in the quarterfinals, and last played West Hancock in tournament play in the third place game in 2016.
West Hancock Info
December 27, 2019