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Westhill boys end Hannibal win streak

In a season with few real blemishes, the Westhill boys basketball team had one back on Dec. 9 when it got beat up at Hannibal.

But when the two-time defending Class B champions showed up at Westhill for the rematch Friday night, the hosts had a different outcome in mind.

In front of its loud home fans, Westhill built a big lead through three quarters, then held on down the stretch to beat Hannibal, 59-49, putting a halt to Hannibal's 13-game win streak.

As in so many other big games in the past, Westhill relied on its tenacious man-to-man defense as the foundation for victory.

Head coach Kevin King said the entire team stood out on the defensive side, particularly Mike McMullen and Mike Mascari, who stuck close to Hannibal's guards, Tyler Baker and Jeff LaMont, and kept them from dictating the game's tempo.

Meanwhile, Westhill's offense proved quite effective as it raced to a 33-19 halftime lead. If Dan Ross wasn't driving to the net, McMullen and Nate Nigolian were pulling up and sinking jump shots, firing up the already-excited Westhill fans.

Hannibal could do nothing in the third quarter to eat into Westhill's lead, so it was 45-29 going into the final period, a safe margin against most teams -- but not Hannibal.

With Baker driving to the basket, drawing fouls and getting free throws to fall, Hannibal made an 8-0 run and, at one point, closed the margin to five, 54-49, with possession of the ball in the final minute.

Westhill would make the stops it needed, though, as both McMullen and Ross hit the clinching free throws. For the night, Ross had 18 points, with McMullen (12 points) and Nigolian (11 points) also breaking into double figures and Tom Fisher adding six points. Baker, with 19 points, led Hannibal's effort.

Should the Warriors (11-2) get past Cazenovia on Wednesday, it sets up a big Friday game at Bishop Grimes. The Cobras enter the week 9-4 and are coming off a 73-64 road win at Marcellus where Mike Stone (20 points) and Joe Basla (11 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) both stood out.

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