(Photo by Ryan Kerwin, JTV Sports)
By Larry Jacobson, JTV Sports
Now THAT was a championship game – except it wasn’t.
In the District Semifinals at Concord High School on Wednesday night, two of the best Class C teams in the state somehow met up in the second round – by random draw – and waged war for four quarters plus an overtime. In the end, in front of a packed house – and all of them standing – Hanover-Horton avenged one of their two losses on the season with a thrilling 65-61 overtime win over Homer.
The Comets, in a direct contrast to the first time these teams met – when Homer won at HH 67-61 in January – controlled play throughout. Hanover-Horton led by six after one quarter, by eight at halftime and nine heading into the fourth quarter. In fact, the Comets’ lead was double digits with just over a minute remaining in regulation until Homer – led by sensational senior guard Alex White – staged a furious comeback that resulted in a 56-56 tie that forced overtime.
“It’s too bad we had to play them so early in the tournament,” Comet junior forward Brock Spink said. “I really feel we’re two of the best teams in the state in this class and this definitely felt like a championship game. It stinks that they came back on us, but I’m proud of our guys for hanging in there and finding a way to win it.”
Spink was one of the prime reasons the Comets (20-2) hung on for the win. The 6’4 junior led HH with 19 points including 8 for 8 from the free throw line. Guard Stefan Young, who scored 18, was also perfect from the line. Young finished 6 for 6.
And those free throws were the difference.
Unofficially as a team, the Comets were 25 for 37 from the stripe. That alone loomed as the game-changer, because the Trojans struggled and hit only 10 of 27.
“We made some free throws there at the end and that helped us,” Spink said.
He then took a moment to pay homage to a worthy opponent.
“We play against those guys during the off-season,” Spink said. “Homer is one of the best teams around and they’re just a really great group of guys. I wish we could have played them later in the tournament.”
The Big 8 Conference Champion Trojans, who finished the year 19-2, came all the way back to send the game into overtime on an Alex White layup in the closing seconds of regulation.
White, who led all scorers with 26 points – including 21 in the second half – was nearly unstoppable.
“Alex White,” Young said when asked how the Trojans came back. “The guy is just phenomenal. We’d have two or sometimes three guys on him, and he’d still find a way to spin out of it and score. He’s a fantastic player.”
Kenzie Brockie, 4 for 6 from the free throw line, added 13 points for Hanover-Horton while junior Preston Reiff reached double figures in rebounds. Senior Kyle Winchell scored 17 for Homer before fouling out in the closing moments. The Trojans had four players, including three starters, foul out of the game.
The young Comets – a team without a senior on the roster – move on to Friday’s District Championship game against the winner of the Concord / Michigan Center semifinal.