History did not repeat itself. Hagerstown saw to that.
The Tigers also saw to it that their quest for the program’s first sectional title since 1965 is still ongoing as they fended off Eastern Hancock 53-46 on Wednesday.
Hagerstown (20-2) advances to face Centerville (10-10) in a Friday semifinal. Union County (16-6) vs. Northeastern (11-9) starts the semifinal round of Class 2A Sectional 41 at 6 p.m.
Union County is the defending champion. Northeastern is searching for its first sectional crown, while Centerville last won in 2011.
“It’s very nice,” Hagerstown senior Kain Grose said of moving on. “We have a very determined team. We set goals throughout the season and we’ve reached those goals so far. The next one is win a sectional championship.”
The Tigers ran into another determined team on Wednesday.
Eastern Hancock (6-15) eliminated Hagerstown from last year’s sectional in the opening round, and the Royals did it about a week after falling to the Tigers in the regular-season finale.
That same scenario started to play out this year, too — only with a different ending.
While the Royals continued to keep it close Wednesday night, they couldn’t hold the Tigers back in the fourth quarter. Hagerstown took a 42-39 lead after three quarters, and an 8-0 run helped the Tigers surge ahead and never look back in that final frame.
Bryan Mathews scored six of his 13 points in the fourth, with Thorin Stage pouring in a game-high 21 — 18 of them coming in the first half — and helping stake Hagerstown to a 29-23 lead at the break.
“It’s been our first one (sectional win) in a few years. It felt really good,” Mathews said.
“I thought we came out as a team, and I knew we were going to pull out the ‘W.'”
A balanced effort helped.
Grose, Jonah McKissick and Tyler Black combined for 18 rebounds, despite both battling foul trouble, and Cole Bartlett scored seven with Daniel Charles adding six.
Bartlett hit a runner as time expired in the third quarter, coming off a steal by Grose, that erased the last lead Eastern Hancock would hold.
“We took care of the basketball. We did a really, really good job of taking care of the basketball,” said Hagerstown coach Bobby Jones. “We had 11 turnovers in the first half and two in the second. So we did a fantastic job of taking care of the basketball. We had some very good ball handlers in there, and we were knocking down our free throws. You’ve got to do that.
“When a team is on the ropes in the tourney and they’re desperate for the ball, they’re going to come at you with everything they’ve got.”
Eastern Hancock did just that from the opening tip-off.
Shane McCormick netted 15 to lead the Royals, who held an 11-8 advantage after one quarter.
The Tigers defeated Eastern Hancock 58-47 on Friday.
Hagerstown is now ready to face Centerville for a third time this season. The Tigers halted Centerville 51-45 on Dec. 14, then ended the Bulldogs’ reign of Wayne County Tournament championships with a 49-31 win on Jan. 9.
“They play that zone, they play it well and they play with a lot of emotion,” Jones said of the Bulldogs. “It’s not going to be an easy game.
“They’re going to be ready. Hopefully we’re ready. We’ve got to figure out how to take care of the ball, attack their traps and attack their zone.”