By Carl Holcomb
Moorefield Examiner –
Playoff Basketball: Win or Go Home.
East Hardy trailed Paw Paw by six points with 1:18 left in regulation, then a valiant rally and overtime push created a 73-67 victory during the first round of the Class A Region II Section 2 playoffs in Baker last Wednesday.
“Honestly I didn’t think we came out with the intensity it takes to win a sectional ball game,” East Hardy Coach Chris Hahn commented.
“Give Paw Paw credit, they came out with all kinds of fire. They were down their best player and they still came out and gave us everything they had. You’ve got to bring it, especially when you’re not as gifted as you think you are. You’ve got to come out here and give effort every night. When you don’t, you put yourself in a position…we were fortunate to get away with one tonight. To be honest with you, Paw Paw outplayed us for four quarters tonight. The one thing that I can say that we did was that we believed all night that we were going to win. I think that belief and that self-confidence is what took us over the hump there at the end. We just executed a little more than they did at the end. Give them a lot of credit, they played a good game tonight.”
The Cougars were behind 61-55 after a free throw with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter by the Pirates’ Tim Abrell.
East Hardy missed a basket and Paw Paw’s Zack Harrold got the carom, but East Hardy’s Tim Hahn deflected a pass and Ricky Robinson got the steal.
The Pirates were without star player River Weese, but fought valiantly.
Robinson dished to Michael Miller who drained a 3-pointer at 1:17 to cut the deficit to 61-58.
“[Told players] Keep battling, keep battling; plenty of time. Just come down here and make a shot. We’ve got all our timeouts. We saved them for that reason. I knew we were going to be needing them and because we had those timeouts,I knew if we could get a shot at the rim we would get a pretty good opportunity to get a stop and make it a game,” Coach Hahn noted.
The Pirates broke the press, then Robinson deflected a pass and Bryce Strawderman saved the ball to Miller.
Miller crashed into the paint and completed a game-tying old-fashioned three point play at :51.
Strawderman played tight half-court defense and forced a turnover on a five second violation with 28 seconds to go.
“Bryce [Strawderman] has been one of our best defensive players all year. He’s got quick feet and he knows where to be and stays low which is good news for a sophomore. He played fantastic defense tonight,” Coach Hahn noted.