PAW PAW — It was a tale of two halves between the HOPE for Hyndman and Paw Paw boys basketball teams, Thursday.
Trailing by 12 points at one point in the first half, the Hornets fought back to tie the game in the second half.
As the clock started to run out, the locals were forced to foul the Pirates as the hosts held on to a 46-41 lead.
“I am pleased with how the boys finished,” said HOPE for Hyndman coach Scott Stouffer. “We had a bad first quarter, but the boys played hard.
“We had the opportunities to come back, but we didn’t capitalize on them.”
The hosting Pirates opened the game with a 12-0 run before Eli Shaffer and Alex Cosgrove scored the only points for the Hornets in the first quarter to cut the deficit to eight, 12-8. Paw Paw’s Nick Hiett scored a lay-up as the first quarter ended with the hosts leading, 14-4.
HOPE for Hyndman’s Banks Stouffer answered a pair of Paw Paw baskets, and he and Noah Stair added a four-point run to cut the deficit to six points, 18-12, with 4:56 left in the first half.
Stouffer added a pair of free throws to keep the Hornets in the game, but the hosts hit back-to-back three-pointers to extend their lead with under two minutes left to play. Stouffer added a free throw to cut the deficit to 11 points at the half, 26-11.
After a lackluster first half, the Hornets turned up the heat in the second half.
Stouffer added four points and Shaffer added a basket to cut the deficit down to four, 26-22.
After a basket by Paw Paw’s Dylan Moreland, Stair scored a two and Stouffer added another bucket following a lay-up by Coby Ridgeway.
Stouffer scored consecutive baskets following a Paw Paw lay-up, while Stair added a free throw to keep the Hornets in the game, trailing, 32-31, but Hiett scored a lay-up as the third period ended, pushing the hosts ahead, 34-31.
Paw Paw opened the fourth quarter with a lay-up by Hiett, but the Hornets pulled within a point with a three by Stair and a basket by Shaffer.
Moreland scored a basket for the Pirates, which was answered by Stouffer, but the Pirates got a pair of free throws to pull ahead, 40-37.
Stair drove inside for a lay-up and after a free throw by Paw Paw, Stouffer tied the game with a fadeaway with 31.5 seconds left.
“We had it tied there” Stouffer added. “Paw Paw got a stop, and we had to start fouling. Anytime when you’re in the game and have to foul to get the ball back — you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.”
From there, Paw Paw added just one additional field goal and scored three from the free throw line to win, 46-41.
“Paw Paw is a good team,” Stouffer noted. “I’m extremely pleased with how the boys played all the way to the end.
“I’m very pleased with how my bench responded. With guys in foul trouble, they came in and played great defense and rebounded well.”
Stouffer led the night with 22 points, while Stair added 10 for the Hornets.
Paw Paw’s Ridgeway and Hiett each had 12 for the hosts.
HOPE for Hyndman returns home on Friday for its Senior Night, hosting Turkeyfoot Valley.
PAW PAW 46, HOPE FOR HYNDMAN 41
HOPE for Hyndman 4 11 16 10 — 41
Paw Paw 14 12 8 12 — 46