King George battled to within one point of the lead twice in the last 30 seconds, but the go-ahead basket proved elusive, and the Foxes fell to Hanover in their Region 4B boys basketball tournament play-in game, 76–72.
“Basketball is a game of runs, and they made the last run, and we didn’t get stops when we needed to,” said King George coach Anthony Mills. “We could have made a couple of free throws, cut down on some of the turnovers, but that’s basketball.
“This isn’t a game where I can sit there and say, ‘We should have done this, we should done that.’ This is a game where my guys will learn from this, and we’ll be better,” he said.
Jaylen Stepney scored 25 points and Calvin Jones added 24 for the Foxes (4–19), but Hanover hit nine straight free throws down the stretch to hang on to the lead. By the time they missed one, it was too late for King George.
Will Fahed led the way for the Hawks with 28 points, including four 3-pointers, and his last two free throws put Hanover up by three with 15 seconds to go.
“I was thinking the whole game, we need to get a win, and we did that,” Fahed said. “It may have been ugly, but we got it, so I’m happy.”
Jaylin Ross contributed 17 points for the Hawks, while DJ Sims added 12.
“We came in with the mindset that we were going to get a ‘W’, [the coach] told us that even before we got on the bus,” Ross said, “and we executed very well.”
Hanover (4–19) will head to Courtland to play the Cougars (13–10) in the tournament’s official first round.
Mills is already thinking ahead to next season.
“It’s a tough loss for us,” he said. “Nobody likes losing the last game. But there’s a lot that we can take from the season besides that loss. There’s a lot that you can learn from a loss as well.”
He said the Foxes got a late start on the season—he only got the coaching job in September—but had worked hard all year to improve.
“I have to commend my guys on the work ethic that they had all year,” he said, “and I appreciate everything that they gave. They gave me a 110 percent every game.”
He said he is looking forward to having an offseason with the team, including many returning juniors and sophomores.
“We’re going to do what we need to do over the break, while we’re off, to put ourselves in [the right] situation,” he said. “We’re going to learn from this situation so that we are a better basketball team, and learn how to finish.”
Mills said the team is losing three seniors. One of those is Stepney, who said he will be playing basketball at Lynchburg College next year.
Like his coach, he did not want to focus only on the evening’s game.
“I’d like to thank my teammates, throughout my whole four years, and the coaching staff,” Stepney said. “And I hope they continue to grow as team, and go far in life.”
Hanover: Sims 12, Bunch 0, Ross 17, McCormick 4, Brooks 9, Fahed 28, Luck 2, Murphy 0, Hudson 0, Wallace 0, Stephens 0. Totals: 28 13-16 76.
King George (4-18): Teyon Ranson 1, David Clift 8, Calvin Jones 24, Ron Williams 0, Jayden Parker 0, Mark Morgan 4, Myckel Mason 5, Jaylen Stepney 28, Von Whiting 0, A.J. Gibson 0, Jawan Parker 0. Totals: 26 14-26 72.
3-pointers: Hanover 4 (Fahed 4). King George 6 (Jones 4, Mason, Ranson).