×

A Winning Formula: Hanover Finds Right Blueprint to Oust Lebanon

  • Megan Gradijan, of Lebanon gets stopped outside the key by Anna Kirkpatrick, of Hanover, left, and Lois Schwarz, right, during their NHIAA Division II playoff game in Lebanon, N.H., Friday, March 2, 2018. Hanover won 53-46. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover's Lois Schwarz pushes toward the basket against Lebanon's Megan Gradijan during their NHIAA Division II playoff in Lebanon, N.H., Friday, March 2, 2018. Hanover won 53-46. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover captain Emma Burwell celebrates the Marauders' 53 - 46 win over Lebanon in the NHIAA Division II quarterfinals with classmates Christiana Zamora, left, and Deveon Martin, right, in Lebanon, N.H., Friday, March 2, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Hanover bench erupts as the clock runs out on their NHIAA Division II playoff game win over Lebanon in Lebanon, N.H., Friday, March 2, 2018. Hanover won, 53-46, . (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover coach Dan O'Rourke calls a play to his team during the Marauders' NHIAA Division II playoff with Lebanon in Lebanon, N.H., Friday, March 2, 2018. Hanover won 53-46. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, March 03, 2018

Lebanon — Charlotte Johnson and the Hanover High girls basketball team see enough of rival Lebanon to know what it takes to beat them. Just in case the Marauders needed a midgame reminder on Friday, however, they wrote some instructions on their wrists.

“Discipline,” the words read in light blue ink on Johnson’s right wrist. “Focus,” it read on the left.

Hanover, the seventh-seeded team in this winter’s NHIAA Division II tournament, used both to defeat defending state champion and No. 2-seeded Lebanon, 53-46, in the D-II quarterfinals inside a raucous Lang Metcalf Gymnasium.

“I can’t believe it,” Johnson said. “This is my first year on the team. This is the first time I’ve beat Leb in basketball. I’m so excited. I just started crying after, when I saw my mom.

“We played our hearts out. This is the best game we’ve ever played. We just connected as a team. I’m so proud of us.”

The Marauders (16-5, 17-7) advance to the D-II semifinals for the third time in five seasons and will next take on No. 3 Hollis Brookline at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. Hollis (18-2) held Hanover to a season-low tally in a 46-28 victory at home on Jan. 26 and is the highest seed remaining in the D-II tournament following a night that also saw No. 1 Portsmouth fall.

Not that past Hanover contests matter against the Raiders, who had beaten the Marauders in six straight meetings prior to Friday’s loss. The victory was Hanover’s first against Lebanon since March 4, 2015, a 47-40 decision in the tournament’s preliminary round. The Raiders are 10-4 against their rivals since 2012.

“We had discipline right here, and focus right here,” Johnson said, pointing to the writing on her wrists. “Whenever we were down, we just looked at our arms and we’d pull it back together.”

Maddie McCorkle led the Marauders with 21 points, a postseason high for the Hanover sophomore and her 13th game with double-digit points this season. Lois Schwarz added seven points.

But the Marauders were jump-started by their trio of freshman Johnson and sophomores Frances Taylor and Anna Kirkpatrick, all of whom played critical roles in the victory.

“We’ve been playing well for the past week,” said Hanover head coach Dan O’Rourke, whose team is riding a four-game winning streak into next week’s semis. “In February, we got derailed with injuries … we were struggling to find ourselves. But the truth is that helped us. Charlotte Johnson blossomed. Anna Kirkpatrick blossomed. Kids who may not have necessarily gotten opportunities took advantage.

“The kids weren’t nervous,” he added. “We had a good week of practice, and we hit shots tonight. That helped.”

Lebanon initially jumped out to a 13-9 lead with a 8-0 run in the final minutes of the first quarter. But a basket from Johnson and a 3-point shot from Schwarz with three seconds remaining gave Hanover a 14-13 lead headed into the second stanza.

Schwarz and McCorkle then went toe-to-toe in the second quarter with Lebanon’s athletic sophomore, Rebecca Wright, who put together a game-high 23 points, combining for eight quick points before Lebanon coach Tim Kehoe called a timeout. Wright finished the half with a buzzer-beater of her own, taking an inbounds pass in the corner and nailing the shot to cut Hanover’s lead to 29-24 at the intermission.

“Becky played great,” Kehoe said of Wright. “She’s been double- and triple-teamed all season, and she comes up with 20 (points) every game.”

Lebanon cut the lead to three points with 4 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter thanks to four quick points by Wright, off an aggressive move to the basket that she floated up and in while drawing a foul, and Izzy Peress, on a hoop seconds after a steal.

But McCorkle had other ideas, answering with a crowd-silencing triple to re-establish Hanover’s multi-possession lead.

“They shot well,” Kehoe said. “They’re a great team. They were 15-3 last year (in the regular season) and brought everybody back. … They’re not a 7 seed. We played hard. We played well. But they played better than us tonight.”

Lebanon never closed the gap, cutting the deficit to three points twice in the fourth quarter.

Johnson came up with the response both times, finishing off a nifty passing sequence that broke the Raiders’ full-court press and found the Hanover freshman alone underneath the basket.

“It was hard at first. The scrimmages, we didn’t really blend together,” Johnson said of her first season with the squad. “Maddie, I’ve known for a while. But Lois, we just connected on and off the court. … They’re just such great players. They always know where I’m going to be.”

Taylor, Johnson and Julia Golder hit four of six free throws down the stretch to secure the win. Johnson finished the game with 11 points, Kirkpatrick netted five and Taylor added four.

Lebanon freshman Sally Rainey scored 11 points. Peress and Leah Mayes added six points each. The Raiders, who lost starting junior guard Anna Wolke to a broken hand last week, finished their season 20-4 overall and 18-3 against New Hampshire opponents. They will only graduate Mayes in the offseason.

The Marauders have not won a state title since 2008, having fallen in both trips to the championship game since then.

“In every timeout, nobody looked scared,” O’Rourke said of his young squad, which features 10 underclassmen from its roster of 14. “They’ve got confidence now. That’s half the battle.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.