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Hanover-Horton hangs on to defeat St. Mary C.C., 50-48, to reach Class C semifinals for first time since 2003

By: Ben Szilagy, March 24, 2015, 11:05 pm

Ann Arbor — Since the first grade, the Hanover-Horton players dreamed of an opportunity to take their community back to the Breslin Center for the Class C semifinals.  

Senior Brock Spink couldn’t recall any specific game he went to as a youngster, but remembered what it felt like to be a part of a big game.

“I remember going to games, and I went to a big one with a couple of friends when I was eight,” he said. “I don’t remember who we were playing, but it had the same atmosphere like we had tonight.

“This is as big as they get. This is awesome. You can’t beat it.”

The feeling coursed through his veins, igniting Spink’s muscle memory causing the sights and sounds of the Class C quarterfinals to heighten the shooter’s focus. The 6-foot-5 senior led the Comets with 19 points as they hung on to beat Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, 50-48, in a quarterfinal on Tuesday at Ann Arbor Huron.

Hanover-Horton (24-1), which will play in the semifinals for the first time since 2003, started the game hot from 3-point range as senior Stefan Young (13 points) rifled off two long shots from the corner for a 6-4 lead with 4:10 left in the first quarter.

Spink (19 points) helped build upon the lead when he attacked the two-three zone with two quick 3-pointers in the second quarter that gave Hanover-Horton a 16-8 lead.

“In warm-ups, I knew I could make some shots if I could get them off,” he said. “I was hoping coach wouldn’t yank me out when I missed my first one, but I felt confident the whole game.”

The Comets needed those threes as these accounted for 5-of-7 of their made field goals in the first half. St. Mary C.C. made a quick run to close within four, 21-17, after being down nine twice in the first half.

“They had five 3-pointers in the first half, and had only 21 points,” St. Mary C.C. coach Randy Windham said. “At this point, you have to stick to what you do. We’re a zone team. Give them credit they took tough shots, and they hit them.”

Hanover-Horton received key baskets in the third and fourth quarter as the Falcons took away the perimeter, forcing the ball inside. Comets’ post player, Preston Laketa (10 points), missed most of the first half with two fouls, but collected a couple of quick baskets.

Spink checked his ranged with a long 26-foot shot that created a perfect swish for a 28-19 lead with just over four minutes to play in the third quarter.

“In the first half, we just moved the ball well. It’s tough when you haven’t played a team before. You just have film to go on. It’s hard to pick up who our shooters are because we’re so even. Me and Stefan just kept knocking them down,” Spink explained.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Falcons’ defense became more constrictive as St Mary C.C. (22-4) went into a full court press.

Senior Bryce Windham and junior Stephan Umfress led the Falcons with 13 and 21 points, respectively, and they narrowed the gap in the fourth quarter. The clutch shooting and good defense kept the Comets without a field goal for three minutes to pull within five, 43-38.

The game was whittled down from long-range shots to multiple attempts from fifteen feet at the foul line. In the fourth quarter, the Comets were 5-of-12 and the Falcons were 7-of-12 from the free throw line, as the lead was only down to 59-46 with 15 seconds to play.

“There’s pressure, sure. But, everyone on our team missed,” Hanover-Horton coach Chad Mortimer said. “We were fortunate to get one late from Brock.”

Spink split his free-throws for a 50-46 lead, before St Mary junior Brad Shinevarre pulled the Falcons within two, 50-48 with three seconds left.

“Brad put us in a position to tie the game, and in the end it’s all you can ask for,” Windham said.

Hanover-Horton will play Flint Beecher on Thursday in the Class C semifinals at the Breslin Center at 2:50 p.m., and Mortimer is excited for the opportunity.

“I’m excited for these guys to experience this: to make a run like this and go to the Breslin Center, and keep the season going,” he said. “It’s unreal what they’re doing for this community and young fans of this game.”