Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer.com/geans@messenger-inquirer.com Russellville's Devin Quartes dribbles down court during action against Hancock County on Wednesday at Hancock County High School.

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer.com/geans@messenger-inquirer.com Russellville's Devin Quartes dribbles down court during action against Hancock County on Wednesday at Hancock County High School.

By BLAKE STEWART For the News-Democrat & Leader

HAWESVILLE -- The Hancock County High School boys basketball team escaped with a 77-69 overtime win against Russellville on Wednesday night in the Aleris Christmas Tournament.

Senior Jaxson Gray propelled the Hornets to victory, scoring eight of Hancock County's 16 points in overtime, including two 3-pointers. Russellville as a team only scored eight points in overtime.

"Jaxson stepped up big in overtime," Hancock County coach Darren Lynam said. "His two 3-point shots were huge."

Gray finished the game with a career-high 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He combined for 18 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Hancock County (5-4) started the game off with a small lead in the first quarter, leading 15-11. Freshman Anthony Woodard scored seven of the Panthers' 11 points.

Woodard was nearly unstoppable when he was on the floor. He finished with 26 points and shot 12-of-16 from the field.

The Hornets went into halftime with a three-point lead, as senior Jacob White and Gray each had nine points for Hancock County at intermission. White ended with 20 points and nine rebounds.

Russellville began to take control of the game in the third quarter. The Panthers went on a 9-4 run two separate times to take a 46-43 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Hancock County, however, regained the lead thanks to two traditional 3-point plays by White and Gray that sparked a 6-2 run.

Woodard, who was in foul trouble most of the second half, fouled out of the game with one minute remaining in the fourth quarter and the Panthers down one. He scored 14 points in the second half.

"He's a really nice player," Lynam said about Woodard. "We switched our best defensive player onto (him) the last of the fourth quarter until he fouled out."

With the score 61-59 following a made free throw by the Hornets, Russellville drove down the floor with 20 seconds remaining and junior Jacob Naylor, who finished with 15 points, made a midrange shot to tie the game with six seconds left.

The Panthers had a chance to win the game after stealing the Hornets' ensuing inbounds pass, but the shot by senior Devin Quarles was bounced off the rim, forcing overtime.

In overtime, Gray started things off with a 3-pointer. Following a basket by Russellville, he connected with another 3-point shot. White followed that up by stealing the inbounds pass and making a layup to give the Hornets a 75-66 lead, which proved to be too much for the Panthers to overcome.

"We messed up a couple times there in regulation and they got it tied and that's basketball," Lynam said. "We hung with it and got the lead."

Hancock County got to the free-throw line a lot in Wednesday's matchup. The Hornets were 23-of-33 from the charity stripe, while the Panthers were a mere 5-of-10.

The Hornets made 57.7 percent of their field goals as opposed to 40.3 percent shooting by Russellville, which did make 56.5 percent of its shots in the first half before struggling in the second half.

The win puts Hancock County over .500 and is its second straight win following a three-game losing skid.

"We're a work in progress but I think we're slowly but surely getting there," Lynam said.

The loss is the fifth straight game dropped by Russellville (2-5) after winning its first two games of the season.

Both teams compete again today in the Aleris Christmas Tournament at Hancock County High School. Russellville plays Providence at 4 p.m while the Hornets face Central Hardin at 7:20 p.m.

RUSSELLVILLE | 11-17-18-15-8 -- 69

HANCOCK COUNTY | 15-16-12-18-16 -- 77

Russellville (69) -- Woodard 26, Naylor 15, Dukes 8, Hines 8, Quarles 6, Kemp 4, Mason 2.

Hancock County (77) -- Gray 29, J. White 20, Fox 11, C. White 8, Lamar 5, Lucas 4.

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer.com/geans@messenger-inquirer.com Russellville's Devin Quartes dribbles down court during action against Hancock County on Wednesday at Hancock County High School.

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer.com/geans@messenger-inquirer.com Russellville's Anthony Woodard gets down court with the ball during action against Hancock County on Wednesday at Hancock County High School.