By Tris Wykes

Copyright Octopus Athletics 2021

HANOVER – Those 17-0 runs will get you every time.

Midway through the first quarter of Thursday’s Hanover High vs. John Stark girls basketball game, visiting coach Bruce Johnson called time-out with his team trailing, 8-3. The stoppage, however, didn’t help in the slightest. Instead, the undefeated Marauders pushed the score to 25-3 before surrendering another basket.

Hanover High’s Stella Galanes (3) avoids John Stark’s Avery Beaumont. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Hanover cruised to a 59-25 victory while improving to 7-2 overall and 7-0 in NHIAA Division II play. The hosts received 18 points from guard Stella Galanes and 10 from center Jane Lackley while continuing to look like a serious contender for their fifth state title under 21st-year coach Dan O’Rourke.

“I thought our defense was phenomenal,” said O’Rourke, whose team played for the first time in eight days after a couple of contests against strong foes in a holiday tournament near Albany, N.Y. “We were were cutting off their drives and rebounding well, which led to a lot of points in transition.”

Defense has been O’Rourke’s point of emphasis since losing those two games in the Empire State. Competing against schools with enrollments at least three times larger means Hanover had to contend with second- and third-string foes with substantial talent.

Hanover High’s Melissa Whitmore prepares to shoot against John Stark. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“We’re a very explosive offensive team, so sometimes I think we take it for granted that we may not need to play (defense) as hard as we should,” said the coach, noting that his team’s Thursday positioning was impeccable. “But if we want to go deep in the playoffs, we need to do better.”

Hanover’s own depth was evident Thursday, when all 12 players saw significant playing time and the hosts’ crisp style wavered only slightly once the reserves entered. 

“When you come off the bench, your job is to raise the level of play,” O’Rourke said. “I don’t care if you’re a starter and you’re going back in, or you’re getting in for the first time. We need energy and today, I couldn’t see a real drop-off when our subs went in.”

Hanover High’s Jane Lackley passes to a teammate on the wing. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

John Stark, which features no seniors and just three juniors, played with only two substitutes and with one of its starting post players out because of injury. The Generals, who entered Thursday’s contest without having played any opponents among the division’s top 12 teams, received a team-high eight points from Avery Geaumont.

Johnson was impressed by Hanover and has to be happy his one-loss team doesn’t face the Marauders again during the regular season.

“They believe they’re good, which helps them be good,” Johnson said. “They understand their systems and what they’re supposed to do. They got up on us on defense and made us pivot backwards instead of pivoting forwards and going at them.

“Our players were intimidated before we even got here. We knew what (Hanover was) capable of, we watched it and then we fell prey to it.”

Hanover High’s Amina Ajwang eyes the hoop behind John Stark’s Eleanor Girardet (44). Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Notes: The Marauders’ next real challenges appear to be on Jan. 13 against Division II Hollis-Brookline and two days later against Division I Bedford. Those teams, both of which will visit Hanover, each have only one loss in state play… Hanover has played in the Amsterdam College Showcase tournament for the past four years. One of the Marauders’ two losses this season was to New York state’s fifth-ranked team, Bethlehem Central, 69-63, which dropped them to 26-20 in December tournament games under O’Rourke. The coach said that, in comparison, the Marauders have won about 85 percent of their in-state games during his tenure… Hanover’s Caroline Adams played for the first time since spraining an ankle against visiting Bow on Dec. 16. The senior guard produced five points.

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Hanover High’s Sydney McLaughlin, left, guards John Stark’s Abby Duclos. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.