By Tris Wykes
HANOVER – A kind woman passed through the bleachers Friday during halftime of the Hanover High girls basketball team’s NHIAA Division II preliminary-round playoff game with Bow. She passed out clementines, a citrus hybrid of mandarin and sweet oranges.
Down on the court, the host Marauders were already enjoying the fruit of their labor. Up by 15 points, Hanover had held a quality opponent almost totally in check and was headed for a 67-32 rout and a home, quarterfinal date Sunday at 5 p.m. with arch-rival Lebanon.
The Raiders (9-3) went on the road to defeat ConVal on Friday, 55-43, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Despite its scoring, Hanover (14-0) won the game with defense by forcing the Falcons (11-4) into lengthy offensive possessions. The visitors made only 2-of-13 field-goal attempts during the first quarter and 3-of-26 during the first half. Bow trailed, 25-10, at the break after scoring two points during the second quarter.
“To hold a team of that caliber to that output in a playoff game is pretty remarkable,” said Hanover coach Dan O’Rourke. “Our defensive intensity is really impressive. We’ve worked all year on our help defense and playing as a unit.
“Three months into the season, the kids are really getting it and moving together, working as a five-player unit.”
Junior guard Caroline Adams said Hanover’s players share a strong, personal bond that inspires them to play hard for each other. Lack of attention to detail leads to mistakes and the Marauders don’t want to let anyone down.
“We took that love that we have for each other and put it on the court,” Adams said. “We got our offense moving and locked down on defense. It’s that extra high five, or these days, that elbow tap, and picking each other up. Having energy from the bench – it’s all the little things.”
Bow showed signs of life to start the second half but the Marauders soon cast aside any possibility of a comeback.
“They came out in the third quarter and scored five straight points after we had some turnovers and we responded with a 10-0 run,” O’Rourke said. “This is a special team because any girl on the court can score and we haven’t always had that.
“We had four or five knock-down shooters and we have inside play and our spacing is good. It creates a lot of opportunities for kids to be successful.”
Hanover guard Stella Galanes had 16 points on six field goals and 4-of-5 free-throw shooting. Melissa Whitmore had 14 points and nine rebounds, Jane Lackley had 11 points and Charlotte Johnson and Adams each had the 7 points. Julietta Tarza led Bow with 10 points.
“Our ultimate goal every year is a state title, but that’s a process,” O’Rourke said. “Especially this year, you have to get reacquainted with basketball, because not everyone’s playing year-round. One of the hallmarks of our program is that we’re usually a much stronger team in the latter part of the season.”
O’Rourke’s team plays so well so often that he’s rarely out of sorts. Friday, however, he barked at a few Marauders after easy Bow baskets and cringe-inducing turnovers.
There’s not likely to be much jogging Sunday, when Hanover tries to beat Lebanon for the third time in two weeks. The Marauders won the first matchup, 29-28, at Lebanon and prevailed, 56-42, on their own floor. Still in the back of both teams’ minds is the Raiders’ upset of 21-3 Hanover in last year’s playoff semifinals.
Notes: Johnson’s parents brought a cardboard, photo blow-up of her head to the game. Her father also wore a jaunty pirate’s hat… Hanover athletic director Megan Sobel kept statistics for her husband, David, who called the game for the school’s online broadcast. The couple spent their version of date night at a folding table on the court’s edge…
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