DENVER—Jon Hancock recorded the 450th victory of his high school coaching career Friday night, but it was far from easy.
Hancock’s East Lincoln Mustangs overcame a turnover-filled slow start and an early eight-point deficit to defeat North Iredell 60-55 in a Western Foothills 3A matchup.
A 15-0 run bridging the second and third quarters turned the game around. Trailing 30-24, the Mustangs scored the final eight points of the second quarter and the first seven of the third period to take the lead for good.
Palmer Crichton and Houston Hartsell scored 16 points each to pace East Lincoln, and Tyler Mizzell and Keandre Walker made contributions down the stretch.
Crichton hit both ends of a one-and-one with 20.8 seconds left to give East a 59-53 lead. Not only that, Crichton scored eight points in a third quarter that saw East outscore the Vikings 17-8.
In the game’s decisive run, Hancock said his team demonstrated what he called “spurtability.”
For example, the Mustangs (14-2, 5-1) closed the first half with a surge of momentum on a 3-pointer by Hartsell to tie the score at 30 and a tip-in by Carson Engstrand at the buzzer to go into the locker room with a lead.
In the opening minutes of the third, Davis Hill hit a 3-pointer, Crichton made a field goal, and Mason Simmons sank two free throws to complete the 15-0 spurt.
“We make a play or two defense and then we make a three and go on a run. That makes coaching a lot easier,” Hancock said.
The physical play and intensity were reminiscent of last year’s meeting between the teams at East Lincoln. The Mustangs won that one in double overtime.
“(North Iredell) is well-coached, big and physical, so we expected this type of game. I was very proud of this group tonight because we weathered the storm and played with a lot of toughness,” Hancock said.
Off the bench, seniors Mizzell and Walker both made layups in the final minute of play to beat North Iredell’s press. Mizzell’s basket came off a nifty pass from Jackson Fannon to put East up 57-51 at the 36-second mark.
The Vikings (9-7, 2-4) were led by Beckham Tharpe with 15 points and Cade Kidd with 12.
Of his lengthy head coaching stint, which started at Lincolnton in 1994, Hancock said, “It’s been a good career, I guess. I’ve had a lot of great players and a lot of great teams.”
N. Iredell 20 10 8 17—55
E. Lincoln 12 20 17 11—60
North Iredell (55)—Beckham Tharpe 15, Cade Kidd 12, Saunders 8, Kerr 8, Patterson 7, Soots 2, Pierce 2, Cloer 1.
East Lincoln (60)—Palmer Crichton 16, Houston Hartsell 16, Mizzell 7, Walker 6, Fannon 6, Engstrand 4, Hill 3, Simmons 2.
Lincoln Charter 63, Mountain Island Charter 46
Kelan Flowers scored 14 points and Xavier Crawford added 11 in the Eagles 63-46 Catawba Shores Conference road win over the Raptors. Xavier Crawford chipped in with 11 points for Lincoln Charter (11-11, 4-0). The Eagles were to play at Community School of Davidson on Tuesday.
Other boys scores
Maiden 54, Lincolnton 27
North Lincoln 72, North Iredell 38
West Lincoln 59, East Burke 47
Hickory 74, Fred T. Foard 48
St. Stephens 57, Statesville 54
West Caldwell 85, Bandys 46
Newton-Conover 65, Bunker Hill 54
East Lincoln 50, North Iredell 27
Hailey McFadden had 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, a steal and drew a charge in the Lady Mustangs’ dominating win over the Raiders. Emma Montanari added 10 points, 6 boards, 5 steals and 4 assists for East Lincoln. The Lady Mustangs (16-0, 6-0) were scheduled to host North Lincoln on Tuesday evening.
North Iredell 7 8 8 4 - 27
East Lincoln 13 17 16 4 - 50
N. Iredell: Allen 6, Ward 5, Patterson 3, Collins 3, Lippard 3, Bradford 3, Wittenmyer 2, Curlee 2.
E. Lincoln: Hailey McFadden 14, Emma Montanari 10, Bissinger 9, Self 7, Overbay 6, Anderson 4.
JV Girls: East Lincoln 29, North Iredell 25
Other girls scores
East Burke 68, West Lincoln 37
Maiden 72, Lincolnton 48
North Lincoln 44, West Iredell 32
Hickory 53, Fred T. Foard 43
Newton-Conover 76, Bunker Hill 15
Bandys 54, West Caldwell 46
St. Stephens at Statesville (no report)
(Published January 18, 2023)