Shivers, Hannibal swipe momentum, slip past Hornets

Dak Dillon/FULTON SUN photo: Fulton head coach Marques Baldwin (second from left) and the rest of the Hornets’ bench leap to their feet in excitement during Friday night’s North Central Missouri Conference game against Hannibal at Roger D. Davis Gymnasium. The Hornets eventually bowed to the Pirates 47-44.

Dak Dillon/FULTON SUN photo: Fulton head coach Marques Baldwin (second from left) and the rest of the Hornets’ bench leap to their feet in excitement during Friday night’s North Central Missouri Conference game against Hannibal at Roger D. Davis Gymnasium. The Hornets eventually bowed to the Pirates 47-44.

With 13 seconds left in the third quarter, Hannibal Pirates junior guard Mike Shivers lofted in a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

Shivers then connected again from behind the arc, about seven feet to his right, as time ran out in the period.

By himself, Shivers had shaved the Fulton Hornets’ lead to two points and, in retrospect, had driven the momentum mobile into his team’s lot and put it in park.

“That gave them (Hannibal) all the momentum headed into the fourth (quarter),” Hornets senior guard Rob Pittman said. “It didn’t really shake us, but it gave them the momentum and we needed a big shot to juice us up and we didn’t knock it down.”

Shivers, who led all scorers with 16 points, added two free throws to tie the North Central Missouri Conference game, eventually won by Hannibal 47-44 at Roger D. Davis Gymnasium on Friday night.

The eight-point lead toward the end of the third quarter was Fulton’s largest of the game. The Hornets then pulled even at 42-42 when Pittman stole the ball at midcourt and converted a layup with 1:51 remaining in the game.

However, Pirates junior forward Christian Williams answered with a basket and drew contact from Hornets sophomore guard Deon Galbreath with 1:32 left. Williams knocked down the free throw to put Hannibal in front to stay.

Fulton had one last chance to tie the game and force overtime, but senior forward Blake Calvin’s halfcourt heave clanked off the back of the rim as time ran out.

Until the shift in momentum, Fulton (10-9, 4-5 NCMC) had controlled the flow of the game and took the best shots that the Pirates doled out.

But the Hornets, as has been the case for most of the season, didn’t have the breaks necessary to finish the job. Shivers’ two free throws capped an eight-point solo spurt over a span of 1 minute, 1 second to square the two teams at 38 early in the fourth quarter.

Fulton briefly took the lead back when senior forward Nick Christensen hit the back end of two free throws with 5:27 left to make it 39-38.

Christensen — one of three Hornet players with a team-high eight points — committed fouls on back-to-back plays with a little more than 3 minutes to play, sending the Pirates to the line and allowing them to pull ahead for good.

Fulton didn’t help itself by throwing three straight offensive possessions away and into the hands of Hannibal, letting the Pirates seize control of the game.

“We had three or four straight turnovers in the fourth quarter and those can’t be had in close games,” Pittman said. “We have to make winning plays and we didn’t do that today.”

Pittman also finished with eight points, his best offensive outing in the last two weeks according to both himself and Fulton head coach Marques Baldwin.

“The last couple of games he has built confidence and tonight he looked comfortable,” Baldwin said. “He played well for us.”

Pittman rediscovered the touch on his pull-up jumper, helping break the Hornets out of an early offensive rut that saw Fulton try to carry out a strategy designed to take advantage of the size of diminutive Hannibal junior guard Jay Jones.

“They had a smaller kid that we wanted to post up on as much as possible,” Baldwin said. “We wanted to get good looks and not rush into things and it worked well for us for a while.”

Despite not getting any first-half points from senior guard Anthony Porter, the Hornets’ leading scorer, Baldwin’s bunch went into halftime up 28-24. And it wasn’t just Pittman who found some rhythm offensively.

Senior guard Derek Musgrove also chipped in with eight points and senior forward Nick Seelinger, despite scoring only two points, played stout inside after Christensen went to the bench early on with two fouls.

“He (Seelinger) is another guy that has picked up his play the last two games, making good decisions and playing stronger inside while making layups when he gets the chance,” Baldwin said. “Derek Musgrove is also doing that and we just need everyone to play like that for the entire game.”

All totaled, the Hornets only won the middle quarters by a 23-21 margin, not enough cushion to put the Pirates away.

“We need to have sustained runs like 10-2 or 8-0 and not 10-6 or 6-6 ones, because they can’t be right there with us,” Pittman said. “We had an eight-point lead at the end of the third quarter and then No. 30 (Shivers) splashes two threes and that’s a big change, and gives them momentum headed into the fourth quarter.”

Fulton has added a game to its schedule, Wednesday night at North Callaway (7:30 tipoff). The Hornets then close out the regular season at home against NCMC rival Mexico — ranked No. 3 in Class 4 — next Friday night.

Baldwin, habitually irked after a loss, definitely wasn’t happy about his team’s latest defeat Friday night. But he noted that the Hornets are playing well late in the season.

And that’s just how Baldwin likes it.

“You want people playing their best at the end of the season,” Baldwin said. “The best thing about the district championship is that you can actually go out there and win it, and I think if we play our best, we can do that.”

Fulton’s junior varsity team cruised to its 11th win of the season with a 53-37 win over Hannibal on Friday night. Junior guard Burke Echelmeier paced the Hornets (11-1) with 19 points, while junior forwards Joe Ryan Anderson and Jake Nickelson had 11 and 10, respectively.

The Hornets (11-1) played in the Mexico JV Tournament on Saturday. Results were not available at press time.

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