Breakthrough win remains elusive for HVA boys: Wells

HARDIN VALLEY — In his second season as Hardin Valley Academy varsity boys basketball head coach, Shane Wells said he and his Hawks are still searching.

Searching for a signature victory against “somebody maybe we hadn’t beaten in a while,” said Wells, whose team stood at 3-3 overall ending last week after coming close against talented Knoxville West Friday night, Dec. 3, at HVA.

Though out of the gate quickly with a 14-6 lead, Hardin Valley saw the Runnin’ Rebels shift the momentum in the second quarter en route to a 75-69 West victory.

“We’re close,” Wells said about his team “getting over the hump and finishing a game” to end the program’s losing streak against a really good team.

Though West built a nine-point early fourth quarter lead, the Hawks battled back to tie it 63-63 on a Hudson Stokes three-point basket with 3:09 to play. The senior wing ended with a team-high 20 points. “I’m proud of the fact that even though we’ll get behind, we’ll battle back. ... They don’t quit, they just keep competing,” Wells said. “I just wish we’d stop getting behind.

“We couldn’t get over the hump in the second half,” he added. “Crucial moments when we battled and got it within one or two points, and then they’d get it back up to eight.”

Even more to the point, “We couldn’t get stops down the stretch,” the Hawks coach said. “And if we did get a stop they’d get an offensive rebound.”

Specifically, “We didn’t do a good job defending their two best players,” Wells said of West leading scorers Will Biven, a post with a game-high 23 points, and guard Gabriel Pastrana with 22.

As for his own team’s offensive attack, “We really missed Jaelyn Pannell; we were shaky with the ball a little bit,” Well said about his senior guard.

Other Hawks in double figures were all seniors: post Dale Henley with 14, and guards Nick Liakonis (12) and Ty Gentry (10).