Feb. 6—PETERSBURG, W.Va. — In his 17 years coaching at East Hardy, Chris Hahn has never had this much guard depth: That was put to the test on Monday night.
Just two minutes into the second quarter against Petersburg, the Cougars' leading scorer, Jordan Teets — who averages 17.6 points and an area-best 3.6 3-pointers a game — went to the bench with his fourth foul.
Teets never returned. Because he didn't have to.
East Hardy's quartet of other guards — headed by seniors JW Teets and Nate Smith, who scored 17 points each — picked up the slack, and the Cougars used their relentless pressure defense to dominate the fourth quarter in a 66-49 rout of Petersburg.
"When we were able to push the ball out and get them started in their offense 10 or 15 feet further than they wanted, I thought that really changed their offense," Hahn said of his defense during the second half when East Hardy outscored Petersburg, 32-19.
"It kept (Kaleb) Kuhn from getting started. He was really good when we let him get the ball about the 3-point line. He did a really good job of turning his shoulders and getting downhill on us."
East Hardy (11-1) found itself in a close game going into the fourth quarter at Petersburg (11-4) leading 46-40, but the area's best shooting team showed they're capable of winning a game on the other end of the floor.
Disruptive sophomore speedsters Evan and Mason Hamilton gave Petersburg fits in the second half, eventually wearing down a Vikings backcourt hobbled by injuries.
JW Teets buried a 3-pointer to give East Hardy a 53-42 lead with 6:10 left, and Petersburg never got closer.
East Hardy elected to pull the ball out and run a weave offense to force Petersburg to trap or foul with about six minutes to play and no shot clock, which further affected the Vikings' stamina.
Try as Petersburg did to steal the ball, the Vikings had no choice but to start fouling.
"In my 17 years of doing this, I don't ever in a game like that get to sit back and cross my legs and relax (before this season)," Hahn said, "Because I've got what any other team would consider five point guards.
"I'm just really comfortable knowing what they're going to do with the ball and knowing not to get trapped. Knowing how to attack. That's just a luxury this year."
Kuhn sunk a long 3-pointer to get the Vikings within 59-47 with 2:48 to play, part of his game-high 22 points, but East Hardy refused to turn the ball over or leave points at the line.
East Hardy, which entered the game shooting 69.9% as a team at the free-throw line for the year, made 14 of 17 at the charity stripe Monday and 7 of 8 in the decider.
"They do a good job of taking you out of what you want to do," Petersburg head coach Stacey Berg said. "Give East Hardy credit. They're coached well. Mentally they're very strong.
"They did what they needed to do, especially in the fourth quarter. We started getting fatigued. We started making errors we don't make. Credit to their pressure defense. It got to us. We weren't able to handle it. They're the better team."
Peyton Tingler was the only other Viking in double figures with 12 points, scoring seven in the first quarter.
Petersburg raced out of the gates with an 8-2 lead before East Hardy answered with an 11-0 run. Petersburg then scored 12 straight points, and Jordan Teets drilled a late 3 to pull the Cougars to within 20-18 after a period.
Teets made three triples in the first period — his ninth straight game with at least three 3-pointers — but he wouldn't make another.
After picking up his third personal on an offensive foul with 6:02 to play in the second quarter with Petersburg ahead 22-20, Teets was called for a technical foul from the bench.
However, with the Hamilton twins, standing at just 5-foot-7, impacting the game defensively and 6-foot-6 forward Gideon Good protecting the rim and putting back misses — he finished with 13 points — there was no panic.
Smith got hot from 3-point land with two treys in the second quarter, and East Hardy took a 34-30 lead into halftime.
East Hardy led by as many as 11 points in the third before Petersburg cut it to four, but JW Teets gave the Cougars momentum entering the decider by stealing possession and making a turnaround midrange transition jump shot at the buzzer for a 46-40 lead.
East Hardy had success putting its point guard Teets — who averaged more than 17 points a game as a junior last season — off the ball with Jordan Teets, the team's usual shooting guard, on the bench.
"He's a first-team All-State kid, so everybody goes, 'Don't let him get going,'" Hahn explained. "It gets a little bit of pressure off those sophomores having to score, if I can put (JW Teets) in a position where shots probably are going to open up.
"And it also keeps him from getting that double team, which he gets a lot when he's running point. If I do need some offense from him, I'll send him out to the shooting guard side and let him cook a little bit."
East Hardy's conditioning will be further put to the test with three more road games this week due to postponements earlier this year.
The Cougars are at Union on Tuesday, Pendleton County on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Northern on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Petersburg will try to bounce back when it hosts Pocahontas County on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and is at Moorefield on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
"I'm not worried about our effort, our effort is always there," Berg said about what he'll take from Monday's loss. "We have to be mentally stronger and know that there are going to be times in games that aren't going to go your way.
"You can't sit here and put the blame on this, or put the blame over here. You have to be mentally strong and move on."
Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.