The first three Edinburgh Holiday Classic boys basketball tournaments produced a different champion every year.
First-year Lancers coach Keith Witty would like it to be the home team’s turn.
Edinburgh’s 59-55 win against Hagerstown on Tuesday improved its record to 6-4 and propelled it into tonight’s title contest against Lutheran.
Tip-off is 8 p.m.
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“That was one of the things we talked about before this game. They’ve been (semifinalists) the last three years and never made the championship,” Witty said. “They’ve lost in this round every year.”
Edinburgh’s defense proved the difference this time.
Hagerstown made good on seven of its first nine shot attempts, but then the Lancers’ stifling man-to-man defense began to take control. The Tigers finished the game only 23 of 56 from the floor (.411) and labored from the foul stripe, making 2 of 12.
“We put a lot of effort into our defense and we’re getting better at it,” Witty said. “It’s just having a better understanding of the principles — help-side, ball pressure, angles and stuff like that.”
Offensively, Edinburgh leaned on its inside-outside punch of senior post Christian Cox and junior sharpshooter Coltan Henderson. Cox led the way with a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds; Henderson knocked down four 3-pointers on his way to 16 points.
Henderson’s pair of free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining clinched it for the Lancers.
Junior Noah Dale put in 13 points to lead Hagerstown, which faces South Decatur in tonight’s 6 p.m. consolation matchup. Senior guard Trent Weiss added 10.
Henderson’s triple from the right baseline with 14.6 seconds left in the second quarter gave the Lancers a 26-25 halftime advantage. It was only Edinburgh’s second lead of the opening half after going ahead 18-17 late in the first.
Hagerstown maintained a 37-34 advantage until an 11-0 scoring run by the Lancers late in the third put the home squad up for good. Cox provided seven of those points.
“Christian has done a good job of steadily improving game in and game out,” Witty said. “He’s doing some of the little things that he needs to do for our team to make us successful. He’s bought in, he’s working his tail off and it’s paid off.”
Earlier in the day, eight Lancers scored in the team’s 61-22 defeat of a winless Medora squad in a first-round game.
Cox and Henderson netted 14 and 12 points, respectively, for Edinburgh, which set the tone by harassing the Hornets into 14 turnovers before halftime.
Witty’s squad won the rebounding battle 26-15. Medora made only 9 of 35 field-goal attempts (.257).