By Tris Wykes
HANOVER – The home scorebook didn’t quite add up Sunday at the end of the Hanover High girls basketball game against Lebanon. A knot of coaches and statisticians huddled over the pages, muttering and scribbling with pencils. It was the most trouble the Marauders encountered all evening.
The NHIAA Division II quarterfinal contest itself wasn’t problematic for the hosts, who won, 48-32. Hanover flattened its arch-rivals, scoring 15 of the second quarter’s 17 points for a 26-8 halftime lead and improving to 15-0 this season.
Marauders guard Stella Galanes had 26 points, 15 of them before halftime, and Melissa Whitmore added 9 points for the hosts, dropping in several smooth layups under pressure. Sally Rainey, Lebanon’s multi-sport standout, had a team-high 12 points and the senior received a standing ovation from fans of both teams when she exited play during the final seconds.
“Losing her is like losing five kids,” said first-year Lebanon coach Emily Kehoe, who brings back her four other starters for next season. “You think about what more we could have done for her.”
Hanover edged Lebanon (9-4) by a point on the Raiders’ floor Feb. 23, then beat them by 14 points three days later on the Marauders’ turf. Lebanon’s hopes for an upset never gained traction Sunday, as Hanover built leads of 8-4 and 11-6.
“When you can’t score right off, you don’t get to go into a rhythm,” Kehoe said. “We really struggled offensively tonight and us trying to force things allowed them to get easy baskets from their defense. They have four kids who can shoot and we only have a couple.”
Hanover’s offense sputtered a bit during the first quarter, but the Marauders broke the Raiders down with precise play and points in transition. The hosts received strong post play from Whitmore and Jane Lackley, who had 5 points.
“Transition is our number-one priority, to make it a 90-foot game up and down the court and wear teams out,” said Hanover coach Dan O’Rourke. “But if it’s not there, we’ll go into our motion offense and try to get a high-quality shot.”
The multiple threats were too much for Lebanon and Galanes was the night’s standout. Slight of build but fearless and passionate, the sophomore brings to mind one of those Jack Russell Terriers that thrill sporting crowds at intermission by sprinting and scampering around the field or court, pushing a soccer ball in all directions.
“Stella, when she’s on, she’s on, so there wasn’t much we could do about that tonight,” Kehoe said. “And Melissa is basically a guard in a post player’s body, so guarding her is a difficult task.”
Said Galanes: “Melissa worked all summer on her ball-handling and getting better on the perimeter. She can play inside and out and that’s such a help to us.”
The result was postseason revenge of sorts for Hanover, which was upset by the Raiders in last year’s state semifinals. That loss rocked the Marauders, who entered that game 21-2, and provided long-lasting motivation for the current campaign.
“We kind of had a monkey on our backs with Lebanon,” said Galanes, whose team has won every game but its first Lebanon clash but double digits this season. “For me as a freshman last year, that was huge and there were a lot of emotions there. It feels good to do this.”
Galanes missed her first three field-goal attempts before making her next five. She was only 3-of-8 from beyond the arc, but 7-of-8 from inside it.
“Pretty much everyone on our team has the green light,” Galanes said. “If it’s a good shot, put it up. Good ball movement leads to a good shot… and just keep shooting is my mentality.”
Hanover next gets a shot at Kennett (14-2) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bedford High.
“Our team defense has been outstanding,” said O’Rourke, whose program is 56-2 during the past three seasons and has surrendered a combined 18 first-half points during its last two games. “We got some baskets tonight in transition and our intensity and ball movement got going and it snowballed.”
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