Jimmy Econompoulos estimated he had 120 text messages to return on Wednesday night from family members, friends and well-wishers. He said he returned almost all of them.
When you beat an opponent for the first time in 13 years, people take notice, especially when that opponent is defending SCC champion Hillhouse. Yes, head coach Economopoulos has the Hand boys basketball team headed in the right direction.
Hand led Hillhouse by two at halftime. The Tigers ended up outrebounding the Academics by 12.
“A lot of teams can say they played Hillhouse close for a half, but no one cares unless you win the game,” Economopoulos said. And that win was the first for Hand over Hillhouse since Feb. 14, 2005.
Then in Thursday’s practice, Econompoulos brought up the Minnesota Vikings: how a miracle on the game’s final play helped the team score a touchdown to advance to the NFC Championship game, only to then get blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles.
“The Hillhouse win was an emotional high for us, but what good is it if you get your butt kicked the next game?” said Economopulos, a former standout at both Lyman Hall and Albertus Magnus College.
Hand didn’t win Friday but went to double overtime before falling to Amity 55-53.
“Our kids fought and battled. To hold (Tyler) Thomas to 19 points, you can’t ask for more than that,” Economopoulos said. “We had a couple really good looks in overtime to put us up three or four.”
The second-year coach noted the play of guards Tyler Boris (senior co-captain) and Jeremy Long (junior) against Amity, calling them both “warriors” because neither came out of the game after halftime. Boris and Long scored 19 and 13 points, respectively.
Economopoulous said three weeks ago he believed their were eight wins on the schedule. The Tigers need just two more to get to eight and qualify for postseason play.