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Commanders hold off Eagles 43-31 in All ‘A’ tournament

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By The Staff

By Jimmie Earls

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Sun Sports Writer

The good news for the Washington County Commanders Monday was that they got a much-needed victory over Bethlehem, winning 43-31 in the first round of the 5th Region All ‘A’ Tournament. The bad news is that games in the tourney don’t count in district standings.

“You can throw the records out the window when it comes to tournaments,” said WC head coach Russell Burkhead.

Senior Joseph Hamilton got things started for WC, hitting a three-pointer for the first score of the game. The Eagles took the lead in the first quarter, edging WC 16-13, but the Commanders fought back. Hamilton capped the first half by nailing another trey in the final seconds to even the score at 24 all.

Both teams seemed sluggish to start the second half. Through the first six minutes of the third quarter, each team could only muster two points as the score stood at 26-26 with two minutes left in the period.

A pair of free throws by WC junior center Will Purdom gave the Commanders a 28-26 lead, and a trey by Hamilton at the buzzer put WC on top 31-26.

The Commanders padded their lead in the fourth quarter. Senior point guard Alex Simms came on strong for WC at the end, hitting a pair from the charity stripe and pulling down a couple of key buckets to put the game out of reach and earn the Commanders their second win of the season.

Burkhead added, “These kids play hard and they give me everything they’ve got. Monday night we found a way to finish the ball game.”

The key to the win for WC was defense, as the Commanders held the Eagles to seven points in the second half.

“We work on our three-two match-up every day,” said Burkhead. “When you’re not putting a lot of points on the board, you have to work on something else, and we’re getting good at our defense.”

For the rest of the story, see this week's print edition of The Springfield Sun.