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Depth, bench pace Eastern Hancock over Hagerstown

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HAGERSTOWN — He’s Eastern Hancock’s leading scorer, but Isaiah McCormick is more than happy to share the ball and play defense.

Wednesday against Hagerstown in the Class 2A Sectional 41 quarterfinals, McCormick paced a deep, commited Eastern Hancock group to a 68-55 victory.

Five Royals (16-5) scored at least nine points, led by McCormick’s 17, and the EH bench trumped its counterpart 20-5.

“It’s really nice to have multiple guys who can step up at any given night when one of us isn’t playing our best,” said McCormick, a senior guard.

There weren’t many “off nights” to be found in the Royals’ attack Wednesday. They shot 50 percent from the field and sank 15-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter to advance to Friday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal against Union County (18-4).

The only shaky part of Eastern Hancock’s collective game was the first quarter, as Hagerstown (12-9) raced to leads of 15-7 and 17-11.

Dustin Davidson, though, came off the bench to spark a 13-2 EH blitz to begin the second quarter and the visitors led the rest of the evening. Davidson, a senior averaging 3.1 points, registered seven of his nine points in the quarter and the Royals were in front 30-26 at halftime.

“Dustin came in and gave us a big, big boost in the second quarter after Hagerstown got off to a decent start,” EH coach Aaron Spaulding said. “And it’s been that way all year; somebody steps up, whether it be on the bench or a starter. Dustin gave us a big boost, and we had some other guys come in and do some nice things as well.”

In the third quarter, Cole Fout, another EH non-starter, contributed five of his nine points to help keep Hagerstown at bay.

The Royals took a 46-38 lead into the final quarter, but Hagerstown’s Thorin Stage (16 points) poured in five points during a 12-6 rally to cut the Tigers’ deficit to 52-50 with five minutes, 15 seconds remaining.

Eastern Hancock starter Garrett Hancock answered the comeback attempt with a 3-pointer on an assist from Logan Splater. The shot from the senior guard began a 14-0 blitz in which the Royals held the Tigers scoreless for over four minutes to snuff out Hagerstown’s season.

Hancock added a 6-of-6 performance from the free throw line in the closing minutes and finished with 11 points.

McCormick and Derrik Noel (15 points) fueled the EH effort, in which eight players scored. Seven Royals made appearances by the end of the first quarter, and nine played in the first half.

Hagerstown utilized six players through the first three quarters, and until Austin Durham hit a pair of three throws with 1:12 remaining in the third, only four Tigers had dotted the scorebook.

“I think we’ve had nine or 10 people score in double figures at some point this year,” Spaulding said. “This has been a true team. We have nobody averaging over 13 points a game. Hagerstown has two guys averaging over 15.

“We play together, and it could be a different guy every night. And sometimes it’s different stages of the game.”

In addition to balance, the other near constant for Eastern Hancock has been effective defense. Allowing 50.9 points per game, it’s the second-best EH defensive unit of the last 20 years.

Wednesday, the Royals held Hagerstown to 42 percent shooting and won the rebounding battle 26-18.

“We like to get after it on the defensive end,” said McCormick, who added five rebounds and three steals. “Sometimes we’re a little flat, and that shows in some games, but we try to pick each other up and get after it.”

The Royals allowed their most points of the season on Feb. 15 in a 78-74 triple overtime win over Union County, their upcoming semifinal foe.

Union County beat Cambridge City Lincoln 69-61 in double overtime in Wednesday’s quarterfinal nightcap at Hagerstown.

Immediately following the Royals’ victory over Hagerstown, their Friday opponent wasn’t yet determined. But Spaulding professed faith in his defense.

“It’s a very good defensive team,” he said. “We’ve known that since they were in middle school, especially this junior class. Their biggest problem has been scoring over the years, but they’ve always won. And through skill work, they’ve found ways to get better offensively.

“We’re very proud of the way we’ve defended. We kind of had a goal of averaging under 50. I don’t think we’re quite going to make it, but they’ve done a great job.”

Notes: Senior Bryce Mathews led Hagerstown with 19 points. … EH’s best defensive squad (by points allowed) of the last two decades was the 2005-06 team, which gave up 50.6 points per game. … Cooper Henderson added six rebounds and five assists, both team-highs for the Royals. … Wednesday’s game was a rematch of Friday’s regular season finale, a 64-62 win for the host Royals. EH outscored Hagerstown 72-56 combined in the second half of both games. … Northeastern (20-2) will face Knightstown (12-8) Friday at 6 p.m. in the first semifinal. The championship is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. … McCormick leads EH at 13.6 points per game; Noel is second at 13.1.



Eastern Hancock 68, Hagerstown 55

EH — Davidson 3-4 2-2 9, McCormick 5-11 4-6 17, Hancock 2-6 6-6 9, Fout 1-1 6-8 9, Henderson 0-1 1-4 1, Noel 6-10 3-4 15, Wallen 0-1 0-0 0, Barton 1-2 0-0 2, Splater 2-4 0-0 4, Speas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 20-40 22-30 68.

HA — Davis 3-3 0-0 9, Mathews 7-13 4-4 19, Ritter 1-3 2-2 4, Durham 1-3 2-2 5, Stage 5-16 5-5 16, Block 0-1 0-0 0, McKissick 1-3 0-1 2, Stitt 0-0 0-0 0, Templin 0-0 0-0 0, Houghton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 18-42 13-14 55.


EH (16-5) 11 19 16 22 — 68

HA (12-9) 17 9 12 17 — 55

Three-pt. field goals: EH 6-16 (McCormick 3-7, Hancock 1-5, Davidson 1-1, Fout 1-1, Barton 0-1, Wallen 0-1). HA 6-15 (Davis 3-3, Mathews 1-4, Ritter 0-2, Durham 1-3, Stage 1-3).

Rebounds: EH 26 (McCormick 5, Noel 4, Hancock 3, Fout 3, Splater 4, Barton 1, Henderson 6), HA 18 (Davis 1, Mathews 3, Ritter 2, Durham 2, Stage 4, Block 4, McKissick 2). Assists: EH 12 (McCormick 2, Noel 1, Davidson 2, Splater 1, Barton 1, Henderson 5), HA 5 (Mathews 1, Ritter 2, Stage 2). Steals: EH 7 (McCormick 3, Noel 1, Davidson 2, Hancock 1), HA 6 (Durham 3, Stage 3). Blocks: EH 1 (Splater 1), HA 2 (Stage 2). Total fouls: EH 15, HA 22. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: EH 10, HA 13.

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