By Tris Wykes

Copyright Octopus Athletics 2022

HANOVER – Outdoor temperatures dipped below zero Saturday night, but inside Hanover High’s gym, the hosts and Souhegan engaged in heated NHIAA Division II action. Shoves, complaints, insults and unfriendly gestures were freely traded as the Sabers triumphed, 46-34, to remain undefeated.

When Hanover’s Max Galbraith fouled out, the visiting reserves stood and waved goodbye. Souhegan’s Joe Bernasconi sank a late shot and proffered a chef’s kiss to the home student section, which spent part of the evening exchanging unpleasantries with a rowdy group of Sabers JV players parked nearby.

Hanover High’s Kevin Pillsbury (4) and Max Galbraith converge with Souhegan’s Keegan Burke. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

It was not friendly competition. Allowing a tie game midway through the third quarter to rapidly unravel made it all the more difficult for Hanover to endure.

“Today was definitely a lot of talking, but Souhegan wanted to get the ball in low to (6-foot-7 center Johnny McBride) and so there was a lot of pushing and shoving,” said Galbraith, who led his team with 13 points. “The refs kind of let it get out of control.

“Were we distracted? I’d like to think not, but definitely maybe.”

Souhegan High’s Johnny McBride, left, and Hanover’s Blake Hooper-Goetinck jostle on the blocks. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Hanover coach Tim Winslow noted that his team has lost several games in the late going when its offense has stalled. The Maroon and White is frustrated and not inclined to be physically pushed around.

“Our kids came into the game with a chip on their shoulders,” Winslow said. “We’ve been snakebitten a little bit the last couple of games. There was some yapping going on and my kids weren’t going to back down. They had something to prove.”

Clutching and grabbing abounded so much that during certain moments, there were more players on the floor than standing upright. That made things difficult for a Hanover offense dependent on smooth player and ball movement. Hanover operates without much of a post presence and McBride produced a game-high 17 points.

Hanover High’s Kevin Pillsbury (4) and Souhegan’s Matt Canavan (0) pursue a loose ball. Souhegan High’s Johnny McBride, left, and Hanover’s Blake Hooper-Goetinck jostle on the blocks. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“If the refs are going to call it that way, we have to be able to adjust earlier on,” Galbraith said. “Maybe space out a little more and work the ball around. But I’m not disappointed in the way we played. We did what we could with what we have.”

Hanover (2-8) trailed by six points after a quarter and cut its deficit to two points midway through the second stanza. Souhegan led, 21-20, at intermission and it was 27-27 midway through the third quarter. The visitors scored the next 10 points, however, and were whistled for just two of the second half’s first nine fouls.

“Suddenly, the calls weren’t going our way and that got us a little out of our element,” said Winslow, whose team was called for only three fouls during the first half. “Our kids played hard and there were some calls they didn’t like, but that happens every game. We just struggled to score.”

Said Galbraith: “We want to make teams work on defense for 20 or 30 seconds, but we have to make shots. If they’re not going to fall, it’s tough to win games.”

Hanover High’s Colin Pierce shoots a free throw while coach Tim Winslow watches from the sideline. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Winslow was proud his troops limited the Sabers, averaging nearly 60 points per game, on defense. However, Hanover committed some glaring turnovers that proved costly.

“We have to get the ball to the basket,” Winslow said. “We don’t necessarily have to shoot, but we can’t go one pass and a shot from the outside. Offense is a struggle for us. Max can give us some but (opponents) key on him after he gets a few points and we don’t have many other pieces, like we have in the past.”

Notes: Hanover had only three substitutes available… A half dozen members of the Lebanon High boys basketball team attended the game. The Raiders are scheduled to play their arch-rivals at home Jan. 26 and on the road five days after… The NHIAA Division I and II regular-season schedules end Feb. 4 while the Division III and IV slates conclude a week later… Hanover’s certified athletic trainer, Cassie Lapple, worked five games Saturday – varsity and JV boys and girls basketball and boys varsity hockey. Hanover has two more contests Sunday afternoon when boys hockey and boys basketball host Bedford and Con-Val respectively. Those contests were moved up a day to avoid Monday’s projected storm.

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Hanover High coach Tim Winslow shares concerns with the referees. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.