Hurricane's Garrett Tinsley (5) tries to loft a layup over Greenbrier East's 6-9 Obi Romeo on Friday.
HURRICANE - When the CD playing the National Anthem started skipping after a few seconds at Hurricane, no second attempt was made at finishing the song.
Luckily for Greenbrier East and coach Jim Justice, the Spartans didn't yield so easily when their offense hit a snag.
The Spartans watched the Redskins erase a 15-point deficit and grab an eight-point lead in the third quarter before East rallied with a 17-2 spurt of its own and claimed a 79-74 win on a snowy Friday night.
"Our guys are getting better," Justice said. "We're just getting better every game. We scored 79 points tonight and for us, that's improvement. We've still got a lot of turnovers and we're working hard, but we run some different stuff.
"Overall, we're just on our way. These are baby steps with this bunch right now."
While the team may have taken a baby step, senior Mike McCormick stepped up in a big way for the Spartans (6-4).
For a player who missed practice on Thursday due to high blood pressure, he was certainly cool on Friday, knocking down each of his first seven shots, cashing in on all six of his free throw attempts, and making key plays down the stretch en route to a team-high 23 points.
"I was a little under the weather yesterday and I didn't know how I was going to come out and play," McCormick said. "But I played good. We kind of couldn't get stuff going, and we had to start making shots sooner or later."
While McCormick took care of the later, Richard Romeo came up with the sooner, scoring 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter and springing East to an early advantage.
But fouling became a huge problem for the Spartans in the second quarter. The Redskins made 18 trips to the charity stripe in the first 16 minutes, while Greenbrier East attempted just one foul shot.
As a byproduct, 6-foot-9 Obi Romeo got into foul trouble, allowing Hurricane to get shots it was unable to get with the lanky sophomore patrolling the inside.
"We went into a four-man man and floated our big man in the middle an awful lot," Justice said. "When they had someone that was a non-shooter in the game, we could man up and still float him and if we had any kind of penetration, he'd take care of it. We're tons better [when Obi Romeo is in the game] because we can put all kinds of pressure outside and if we get beat, he can take care of business at home."
The Redskins (4-6) nearly made enough headway from the perimeter to negate the Spartans' imposing inside figure. Hurricane hit 10 3-pointers on 27 attempts, highlighted by a 5-for-13 performance from leading scorer Garrett Tinsley.
Tinsley scored a game-high 28 points but couldn't get enough help to overcome East.
Hurricane coach Lance Sutherland said most of the Redskins' shortcomings came on the defensive side of the floor.
"Lack of discipline by some of our players," Sutherland said. "They didn't play defense like they were supposed to and didn't run the offense like they were supposed to. It's our third game this week, no excuses, but we just didn't play like we were supposed to. I think we're as good as Greenbrier East, we just didn't do what we were supposed to be doing."
Owen Browning tossed in 10 points for the Spartans, and Rasaan Harris had nine for Hurricane.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or firstname.lastname@example.org