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West Hancock thrives off beating opponents, not themselves

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West Hancock head coach Reno Pinkston and his team are closing in on their third regular season tournament championship at this week's Hancock County Tournament. West Hancock head coach Reno Pinkston and his team are closing in on their third regular season tournament championship at this week's Hancock County Tournament.

HANCOCK COUNTY, IL (WGEM) -- Reno Pinkston has had several successful basketball teams walk through the gym floors in Nauvoo, Hamilton, and Warsaw. The 1998 state championship Nauvoo-Colusa team certainly stands out.

But the West Hancock head coach has never had a team win all three of its regular season tournaments.

This year's group of Titans is well on their way to becoming the first.

They already have tournament championships at Bushnell-Prairie City and Macomb, and they are closing in on a Hancock County Tournament title.

Oh, and by the way, West Hancock is a perfect 17-0 overall and ranked third in Class 2A.

Pinkston's biggest takeaway so far is his team's ability to avoid hurting themselves.

"What they're doing really well right now is eliminating the negatives," Pinkston said.

"Last year we had a lot of what we call pick-six's or interceptions for touchdowns. You hardly ever see that anymore. Somebody told me the other day, 'your teams don't beat themselves.' That's what this team has been really good at, they don't do the things that could beat themselves."

According to sophomore Drake Hammel, "Coach Pinkston expects a lot from us and we take (his expectations) pretty good. We're not going to look back on that. We have the ability. We just have to keep getting better every day in practice."

West Hancock's winning ways goes back to a summer schedule which saw them play 29 games and finish with a record of 27-2.

It gave them plenty of time to prepare for the winter run, which to this point has been flawless. It certainly helps to have a starting five used to the nightly pressure.

"We know if we're in a close game we're going to be able to pull it out, because we've had enough experience to get through the game," senior Logan Dorethy explained.

"We're able to do pretty much everything, shoot the three, get it down in the post, and pretty much score wherever we want."

Pinkston added: "We got a post player, we got a swing man, we got a point guard, (and) we got off-guards. We got all the pieces in place. Our goals are pretty lofty. I'll just put it that way. I won't tell you what we talk about in the locker room, but to say they're pretty lofty would be pretty accurate."

Pinkston's playing a rotation of eight players and adds having three players he can trust off the bench is an added bonus.

The Titans bid to become Hancock County Tournament champs includes two more games. They will play Unity tomorrow night before squaring off against Illini West on Saturday.

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