Hancock pulls out thrilling win over Jeffers 48-45

Taylor Sebbas of Hancock drives to the hoop Friday night as Dana Kinnunen of Jeffers defends. Sebbas scored 20 points to lead the Bulldogs to a 48-45 win. (Paul Peterson photo)

PAINESDALE — You couldn’t slice it any thinner than Friday night’s girls basketball game between the Hancock Bulldogs and the Jeffers Jets.

Jeffers, down by a 46-45 score with 5.6 seconds left to play, had a chance to win the game with two free throws.

But the Jets were long on both of the free throws, and the Bulldogs got the rebound and sealed the game away, 48-45.

“We found a way to win against a good Jeffers team,” Hancock coach Jack Johnson said. “We made some clutch plays down the stretch and had some unlikely heroes.”

Sophomore reserve Janie Berg hit a huge 3-pointer in the late going as the Crimson and Gold overcame a 43-38 deficit with 1:37 remaining.

Berg’s triple brought her team to within 45-44, and it remained that way for Taylor Sebbas — the game’s top scorer with 20 points — to hit the eventual game-winning hoop with 19 seconds left.

While disappointed with the tough setback, Jeffers coach Joe Romano felt his team played well.

“I liked the way we came back tonight after being thumped by Houghton on Tuesday,” he said. “I think the kids took a step forward … They know how good they can be.”

The Bulldogs started the game on fire as Sebbas laced eight points and sophomore D’Andra Kero knocked in a pair of 3s for a quick 14-5 lead.

But Jeffers fought back and sliced the margin to 16-11 by quarter’s end.

Getting balanced scoring, the Green and White had the margin down to 25-24 by halftime.

Five points apiece by Cierra Stevens and Dana Kinnunen lifted the Jets into a 35-33 lead after the third quarter.

“Our young kids (three sophomores start) stepped up and put the pressure on Hancock,” Romano said. “And the Bulldogs are a good basketball team.”

Jets’ senior guard Ivy Klemett’s four free throws to begin the final quarter helped her team to the 43-38 lead.

But then came Hancock’s late surge to notch its sixth win in nine tries this season.

Johnson felt his players showed character after hitting a cold spell in the second and third quarters. “Our shooting was way off in the middle of the game, but you have to credit Jeffers’ defense for that,” he said. “We hung in there and got a spark from our bench players. I liked the heart we showed.”

Sebbas led the Crimson and Gold with 20 points. She also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Kero connected on four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points and a good floor game.

Jeffers, 5-4 on the season, was led by Stevens with 11 points. Klemett added eight points and four steals, while Dana Kinnunen had seven points. Leah Pennala grabbed a game-best 10 rebounds.

Hancock will host Ontonagon in a nonconference game Monday.

Jeffers will go to Chassell on Tuesday for a key Copper Mountain Conference game. It’s the first of three meetings — one will come in the districts — this season for the two rivals.

“We know how good Chassell is,” Romano said. “But I like our chances. We’re playing well right now.”