Cedarville boys basketball coach Andrew Tencleve is convinced if he had five Abraham Hernandez’s on the floor he would never lose a game.
He only needed one on Thursday.
Hernandez had his usual solid game with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and sophomore Justin Shelley poured in 21 points to power the Pirates to a 79-64 win over Mansfield in the second round of the 3A-1 West Conference Tournament at Cedarville High School.
The victory sends the unheralded Pirates (7-21) to next week’s regional tournament in Danville. It’s the Pirates’ seventh straight regional appearance.
"Whenever he (Hernandez) goes and gets 30, people notice him, but when he’s getting 15 points he’s usually getting 10 rebounds and blocking the other player’s best player out," Tencleve said. "He’s a Cedarville basketball kind of player. If we put five Abraham Hernandez’ on the floor, we will beat you."
With Cedarville ahead, 71-60, Hernandez gobbled up an offensive rebound, set his feet and drew a foul while completing a three-point play with 32 seconds left in the game.
The Pirates, who by Tencleve’s count had a deceiving 1-11 conference record because of six close losses during league play, led 35-26 at halftime, and by 11 (49-38) after three quarters.
The Bucs led 54-43 with 6:40 left, then made enough free throws in the final three minutes to punch their ticket to regionals.
Cedarville made 35-of-47 free throws overall, including 15-of-23 in the final 3:04.
"We didn’t want to get too passive, but we didn’t want to put too much pressure on the basketball, either," Tencleve said. "We knew we had to keep attacking and getting the basketball to the rim. When we got it there, we did a good job of finishing."
Dillon Brewer’s 3-pointer gave Cedarville a 60-49 lead with 3:56 left to play. The only other field goal after that was Hernandez’ put-back.
Tyler Hearron led Mansfield (14-12) with a game-high 23 points. His 3-pointer pulled the Tigers within eight (60-52).
But the Tigers never drew closer than nine the rest of the way.
For Cedarville, Beau Miller (17), Hernandez and Brewer (11) also scored in double figures. It was the third highest scoring game for the Pirates in Tencleve’s tenure as coach.
Tyler James had 14 points and Dallas Morgan 12 for the Tigers.
Cedarville 47, Elkins 43 (Men’s)
Cedarville’s Beau Miller hit two foul shots with 10 seconds left Wedensday to give the Pirates a 47-43 win over Elkins in the first round of the 3A-1 West Conference Tournament.
The Pirates (6-21) faced No. 3 seed Mansfield on Thursday with a berth to next week’s Regional Tournament.
"There’s no secret, we’ve had a tough regular season," Cedarville coach Andrew Tencleve said. "We lost eight conference games by six points or less. We feel like 1-and-11 (conference record) is the worst it could have turned out for us, and we’re anxious to redeem ourselves and see how far we can take this thing."
Cedarville led wire-to-wire. But a basket full of missed free throws helped Elkins stay within striking distance.
Leading 17-9 after one quarter and 23-18 at halftime, the Pirates took a 13-point lead (32-19) on Justin Shelley’s 3-point bomb.
But Elkins hit 6-of-13 3-pointers in the second half and, thanks to the Pirates’ poor free throw shooting, nearly erased a 12-point lead in the final three minutes of play.
"(Elkins) made some big shots and we didn’t handle the pressure very well," Tencleve said. "We’re not a great free throw shooting team, but we’re better than that."
After Colter Metcalf’s trey sliced the Pirates’ lead to 39-31, Cedarville extended its lead to 44-32 on Abraham Hernandez’ layup.
But the Elks capped an 9-0 run with 1:25 left to play when Hunter Casebolt hit a 3-pointer. Elkins was 13-of-48 from the field and 8-of-28 from the 3-point line.
Cedarville was 15-32 from the field and outscored Elkins, 24-8, in the paint.
Shelley, Miller and Braxton Miller had 11 points each for the Pirates.