Hancock's team trailed 29-22 at halftime against the bigger, more experienced Defenders and was down 15 points midway of the third quarter. Muhlenberg North did cut the margin to nine points at 54-45 with about five minutes to play but could get no closer.
Still, it was hard to wipe the smile off Hancock's face after the game because he has so many friends still here -- he spent a weekend during football season here with interim Boyle boys basketball coach Ronnie Bottoms -- to go with the fond memories he left behind.
He got to see former Boyle standout Dana Bodner before the game. Others he knew also came to the game to watch Muhlenberg North play.
"Boyle County is still like home for me, and always will be," Hancock said. "I had a great time here. Who knows? Maybe I will be back here again. I enjoy it. I miss this area. I kept taking the newspaper until just recently when it finally got to where I didn't know a lot of the (high school) players."
Before the game, Hancock admitted he was thinking about his former Boyle players. His mind flashed back to the "little winks" he gave Bodner before games or the way he joked with Abby Price. He thought about former players like Leigh Strahinic and Sarah Brown. He remembered how good Ashley Sanders was.
He remembered playing against former 12th Region standout Heather Baker and the defense Lesley Carpenter played against her. "She wore herself out trying to guard her. I've never forgot that," Hancock said. "I get chill bumps just thinking about those times."
His players have heard about Boyle
His players knew he had coached at Boyle.
"They've heard a lot of stories about Boyle County," he said.
He plans to take his team on a tour of Danville while he's here. Muhlenberg North played Nelson County, a 47-39 loser to Boone County Monday, in the consolation bracket this morning. After that, Hancock wanted to take his team to places like Constitution Square as well as find time for a movie and swim.
"I always try to show my players some sites and get in a little history lesson when we are on the road," he said.
Hancock, 44, also planned to take a run today. He recently completed the 26.2-mile Chicago Marathon in 3 hours, 59 minutes, 20 seconds. It was his fourth straight year to run a marathon, but first finish under four hours.
He ran 5K (3.1 mile) races when he was here and coached cross country, which he feels is the "fairest sport" because everyone gets to participate.
"I quit drinking soft drinks a few years ago and needed something else to relieve the stress. So I took up distance running," Hancock said.
He also briefly quit coaching to become an assistant principal.
"I would go to games and go crazy. I would be biting my fingernails and pacing," Hancock said. "I was a wreck. I missed coaching more than I ever realized I would."
When the Muhlenberg North job opened again, Hancock resigned as assistant principal, took a pay cut and returned to his classroom and coaching duties that he loves.
Weather keeps best player from making trip
He was glad just to get his team here. Last week's winter storm left about 12 to 16 inches of snow and ice in Muhlenberg County and kept his best player from making the trip here Monday.
"I hope she gets here for the rest of the tournament, but we got hit pretty hard. I'm glad everyone else could make it," he said.
Crittenden County didn't make it. That forced a change in the tournament schedule that had Heath play Montgomery County instead of host Boyle. The Rebels did not play and advanced to today's quarterfinals where they will play Henry Clay at 8:45 p.m.
The tournament's best individual performance Monday was a 30-point effort by Somerset senior Madison Flowers in a win over Raceland.
Hancock's players, though, probably would rather still talk about the 25 points Kentucky guard Patrick Sparks had in a 60-58 win over Louisville Dec. 18. Sparks played at Muhlenberg North.
"I am on the only Louisville fan on my team," Hancock said. "He's kind of a legend back home now. Everybody is compared to Patrick Sparks and probably will be for the next seven years.
"I just wish my girls could shoot like him. We play good defense and we play hard, but we can't make shots. But we're happy to be here because this area is still very, very special to me."