Honaker’s shot at perfection is over
Honaker (74) Vs. Eastside (76)
Feb 26, 2016
for the Daily Telegraph
BRISTOL, Va. — The dreams of an undefeated season came to an end for Honaker. The only consolation, the Tigers still advance after falling in the 1A West semifinals at the Bearcat Den at Virginia High School.
Eastside knocked off Honaker 76-74 to advance to face Radford in the Finals today. Signature win, it definitely was for the Spartans.
“By far this is the biggest win ever for our program,” said Eastside coach Patrick Damron. “I really felt my kids played with a chip on their shoulder. I don’t think anyone expected us to win.
“We hustled, we won the 50-50 balls, we rebounded, good enough to win.”
Honaker opened with a flurry to take a 9-2 lead. But Eastside stuck to their game plan, and came back to tie the game at 9-all when Tim Counts and Seth Boles hit back-to-back 3-pointers. The Spartans held a 19-16 advantage after the first eight minutes of play.
The difference of the game came in the second quarter, when led by Derrick Cusano the Spartans hit five of their first six shots. Their defense held the Tigers to only three field goals in the second, as Eastside built a 39-27 lead at halftime. They only had two turnovers in the first half.
“I can’t say enough about our limited turnovers” Damron said. “I said if we limit our turnovers and maximize each possession, we would win the game.”
Brett Boyd made two 3s at the start of the third quarter to quickly get the Tigers within striking distance. When Hartley Hilton sank two foul shots, Honaker tied the contest at 43 with just under four minutes to play in the third.
Cusano again helped the Spartans begin to pull away. But Honaker who was undefeated for a reason would always fight back. Eastside led by as many as eight in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers pounded the ball inside to Tanner Robinette who always delivered.
When Cusano picked up his fourth foul early in the fourth, the Spartans spread the floor and began to control the pace. Brent Coleman had a stickback and Blake Stinson dropped in a 3 with just over a minute to play to tie it at 70 with 1:14 left to play.
Adam Ketron made a free throw to put the Spartans up one, and Honaker had a chance to take the lead, but Hunter Lunsford had the defensive play of the game, picking off a pass. Cusano was then fouled and made two foul shots. Robinette scored to pull the Tigers within one, but again Cusano was fouled calmly sinking both free throws. Robinette again scored in the paint and it was 75-74 with eight seconds remaining. “We knew we didn’t have an answer for Tanner, no one’s had an answer for Tanner all year,” commented Damron. “We wanted to do as good a job as we could on him and contain the other guys.”
The Tigers fouled Boles with 4.3 ticks left on the clock. He made the first shot, but missed the second and a desperation shot by Honaker wouldn’t fall at the buzzer.
Robinette finished with 36 points. Hilton added 10 points for Honaker. Cusano totaled 31 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Spartans. Adam Ketron (15 points) and Boles (12) also had big night offensively.
“Come tournament time everything is magnified,” Honaker coach Marcus Dunham said. “Your mistakes are magnified in the postseason. You can get away with some things in the regular season, but if you make mistakes now it comes back and bites you.”
Honaker will take on George Wythe in a consolation contest today at the Bearcat Den at approximately 2:30. Radford and Eastside will square off for the 1A Title at 5:30.
“We will have our work cut out for us,” Damron said. “Radford will get after you full court. We can’t let this be our regional championship tonight, we have to rally the troops and get ready to play a good team tomorrow.”

At the Bearcat Den
HONAKER (27-1)
Boyd 3 0-0 9, Hilton 5 0-0 10, Stinson 2 3-4 8, Coleman 1 0-0 2, Robinette 10 16-20 36, Sample 3 2-2 9. Totals 24 21-26 74.
Ketron 4 5-7 15, Boles 4 1-3 12, Cusano 11 9-9 31, Lawson 4 0-0 4, Counts 4 0-0 9, Livingston 0 0-0 0, Sturgill 0 0-0 0, Rhoten 0 1-2 1, Lunsford 1 2-4 4. Totals 26 18-25 76.
Honaker........................16 11 27 20 — 74
Eastside.......................19 20 20 17 — 76
3-point goals – Honaker 5 (Sample 1, Boyd 3, Stinson 1), Eastside 4 (Boles 3, Counts 1). Total fouls – Honaker 18, Eastside 19. Fouled out - Stinson. Technicals – none.
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Honaker 16 11 27 20 0 74
Eastside 19 20 20 17 0 76
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