PRINCESS ANNE, Md. — With a slew of injuries to several key contributors, the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks are going to need their newcomers to play significant roles all season long.
On Friday night in the opening game of the 2017-18 season, a pair of freshmen guards came off the bench to lead the Hawks against the Valley Forge Patriots.
Injuries to the likes of Dontae Caldwell and Ryan Andino have opened up minutes in the back court, and the Hawks may have found their replacements against the Patriots. Cameron Bacote and Sean Hoggs both came off the bench and provided a big boost to the Hawks’ offensive attack.
The pair combined for 51 points on the night, and helped guide the Hawks to their first season-opening win in more than a decade. Maryland Eastern Shore pulled away in the second half for a 95-69 win over Valley Forge.
With the exception of a slim 3-1 deficit less than two minutes into the game, the Hawks didn’t trail for the majority of the game.
Sean Word gave the Patriots the two-point cushion less than two minutes into the game. The Hawks responded with a 9-0 run, highlighted by four early points from Logan McIntosh, and the home side was in front for good.
It took some time for the Hawks to pull away from Valley Forge, as the visitors remained within striking distance throughout the first half. A three ball from Hoggs with 5:02 remaining in the opening frame gave the Hawks a 10-point lead, their largest of the half.
Eastern Shore would take a seven-point lead into the break, at 45-38.
The Hawks opened the second frame with a 13-3 run that increased their lead to 17 points, at 58-41. Sophomore forward Tyler Jones opened the second half with a jumper, and freshman big LeAndre Thomas capped the run with a dunk.
Valley Forge managed to cut the deficit down to nine points on a pair of occasions around the midway point of the second half, but were never able to mount a serious threat to the Hawks.
As the second half wore on, the Hawks slowly built on their lead. A layup in the closing minute from Bacote pushed the Hawks’ lead to 95-69, which was the final margin of victory.
Cameron Bacote recorded 28 points and 11 assists for his first double-double in as many games at the Division I level. Sean Hoggs chipped in 23 points and three rebounds. The pair combined to shoot 19-of-29 from the floor, and 13-of-20 from three point range.
LeAndre Thomas chipped in with 10 points, all of which came in the second half, and nine rebounds.
Guard Alex Sanchez scored 24 of his team-high 28 points for the Patriots in the first half.
The win for Maryland Eastern Shore (1-0) was their only home contest in the month of November. The Hawks now embark on a six-game road swing, with their first contest coming on Sunday afternoon against the Maryland Terrapins.
– T. Bennett