Junior Eric Jones scores game-high 15 points, helps secure game-saving turnover in Monday's victory
Eric Jones insisted his strong effort against Macon was just a product of the good play from his teammates.
In Monday night's contest at Korf Gymnasium in Hannibal, it was an equation that worked like a charm for the Pirates.
Jones scored a game-high 15 points, was all over the boards and in on several turnovers, including one that helped preserve Hannibal's 67-59 victory that ended a seven-game losing streak.
“As long we we're playing as a team and getting the job done,” Jones said. “We've dug ourselves a pretty big hole (with our record), we've just got to get out of it.”
Jones provided one of many ropes on the night as Hannibal (2-7) began climbing back with their first win since Nov. 24.
After a back-and-forth contest ruled most of the game, Hannibal was ahead just 61-56 with 2:20 to play. Macon's Nash Waller had just sunk a pair of free throws, and a Pirates turnover gave the Tigers possession.
Macon drove to its basket on the ensuing move downcourt, but Jones was able to knock the ball loose from a Tiger, and HHS junior Shamar Griffith recovered the ball for a steal.
Griffith was fouled moments later, and knocked down two free throws that started a small 6-0 burst for the hosts that put the game away.
“Like coach (Mark Thomas) always says, one turnover can cost you a game,” Jones added. “To be in that position to get that turnover, it put us in a position to stay ahead and finish strong and get the win. That felt good.”
Fittingly, Jones got Hannibal started from the opening tip off, sinking a free throw to open thescoring before taking a layup to the basket for an early 3-0 HHS lead. He later added another layup for the Pirates' first five points of the matchup.
“Eric had a heck of a game for us,” coach Thomas said. “Eric is the epitome of a teammate. He's going to (sacrifice) for the team, constantly. He does things for the team, and tonight he saw an opportunity to do something for the team, and his role was to be a scorer and be a leader and vocal, and I thought he did a great job.”
Griffith also got in on the offensive effort in the first quarter, scoring six of his 12 points in the first eight minutes as Hannibal grabbed a 16-14 lead after one.
The two teams went neck-and-neck for the rest of the first half, as the biggest lead came on a 7-1 push from the Pirates midway through the second quarter.
A steal-layup combo from freshman Dezmond Jones gave Hannibal a short-lived 27-22 edge, which Macon erased on a Ethan Bray 3-pointer and two free throws from Nolan Bright. Hannibal junior Devias Douglas provided a tying jumper just before the half that knotted the score at 32.
Neither team could pull away in the third quarter, but Hannibal was doing its best behind some selfless play.
Kasen Rademan found Griffith for a layup early in the period, and Eric Jones later scored on a feed from senior center Dylan Powell. Rademan later drained a trey on a give from Griffith, and Griffith later handed out another assist on a Jones bucket. Jones would later find Powell for a basket that made it 45-42 late in the third, and after Macon tied it at 49, Griffith found Jones one more time for a layup and a 51-49 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Hannibal never trailed the rest of the way.
Powell was also a force on the glass and in the post, finishing with 13 points. In his last home game against Moberly, the 6-foot, 3-inch force was upset with a poor shooting night near the rim. He fared better against the Tigers, but was happier with the win than his numbers.
“Any time you get a win it's a good night,” he said. “Nobody ever wants to lose, so int's just nice to get back into the win column tonight.
“We needed to bounce back and that's what we did.”After Macon's Meade Fry tied the game at 51 to start the fourth quarter, Hannibal responded with a 10-2 run that virtually sealed the victory.
Senior Shyro Deal scored all five of his points in the quarter, and they came in back-to-back-to-back fashion to start the move.
He hit a putback on a Pirates miss, scored on a layup on a feed from Dezmond Jones and added a free throw.
Macon pulled within three one more time, but Jones sank a 3-pointer and Powell hit a short jump shot moments before Eric Jones and Shamar Griffith teamed for the key turnover that put the victory on ice.
Ethan Foster paced the Tigers with 12. Cody Roth and Bray each had 10.
Mexico 71, Hannibal 60 (Friday): A six-point quarter to start Friday's game spelled disaster for the Hannibal High School boys basketball team, as the Pirates never quite recovered in a 71-60 North Central Missouri Conference loss to Mexico on the road.
After falling behind 16-6 at the end of the first period, Hannibal (1-6) woke up offensively with 18 points in the second. Senior center Dylan Powell led the way with five points while senior Shyro Deal and junior Shamar Griffith added four each.
That helped the Pirates cut Mexico's lead to 32-24 at the half.
Hannibal carried its offensive momentum into the third quarter with a 19-14 victory over the eight-minute period. Senior Kasen Rademan scored six points on a pair of 3-pointers, Griffith scored six points and Powell added five more.
The burst helped Hannibal close the gap to 46-43 heading into the fourth quarter. But from there, the visitors were unable to finish their rally.
The Bulldogs scored 25 points in the fourth quarter to close out the win.