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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
When a team enters into tournament play, it comes down to the luck of the draw as to who your opponent is for any given day. The Washington County Commanders entered the 2009 Mordecai’s Holiday Homecoming Classic last Saturday with an opening round game against neighboring Marion County, the host team for the tournament.
“We played pretty well for two and a half quarters,” said head coach Russell Burkhead. “We were down by about eight or nine with about four minutes to go in the third, and the Knights just hit a barrage of three-pointers and two or three time-outs later, we were down by 30. They hit 15 three-point shots against us in that game, 31 in the two games we’ve played against each other this year.”
Although WC lost 80-48, the boy’s focused on their next target — the Taylor County Cardinals on Sunday. Head coach Russell Burkhead saw some good signs from his team against the Cards, despite losing 47-35.
“This was probably the best game we’ve played up until that point in the season,” added Burkhead. “We played them earlier in the year and they beat us by 39 (62-23). We played well in the first half and we went into halftime with a 22-18 lead. In the second half, we just couldn’t put the ball in the hole. They hit a few treys and I think they outscored us 14-2 in the third quarter and we just couldn’t get past the hump. All in all, I was pleased with the way the boys played and they’ve gotten a lot better.”
On Monday, the Commanders broke into the win column for the first time this season with a 51-36 victory over the Cobras from Kilsyth, Australia.
Joseph Hamilton was on fire in the first half, sinking five three-pointers and racking up 19 points in the half.
WC got off to a 17-3 start in the first quarter and built their lead to 34-11 by halftime.
The Cobras struck back in the third quarter, outpacing the Commanders 16-7, but WC was able to keep their distance in the fourth quarter, outscoring Kilsyth 10-9 and coming away with the 51-36 win.
“I’ve been telling people all year long that Joseph (Hamilton) knocks down shots everyday,” said Burkhead. “When you’re a shooter, just have to keep shooting and he was on fire in the first half.”
The return of senior guard Alex Simms from an injury has added a new dynamic to the team and the Commanders played on that against Australia.
For the rest of the story, see this week's issue of The Springfield Sun.