Checkmate, Hanover: Marauders Edge Raiders in Battle of Wits
Hanover's Cathleen Beliveau scores two points as Lebanon's Vanessa Fleury defends during Lebanon at Hanover girls basketball in Hanover, N.H., on February 12, 2014. Hanover won, 40-39. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
With two seconds left in the fourth quarter, Lebanon coach Rob Marsh uses his clipboard while talking to his players in a second consecutive timeout called by Hanover during Lebanon at Hanover girls basketball in Hanover, N.H., on February 12, 2014. Hanover won, 40-39. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover's J.J. Daniell moves the ball down the court under pressure from Lebanon's Meredith Melendy, left, and Kendra MacDonald during Lebanon at Hanover girls basketball in Hanover, N.H., on February 12, 2014. Hanover won, 40-39. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — Lebanon High girls basketball coach Rob Marsh believes he knows exactly what he needs to do upon each occasion when he burns one of his five allotted timeouts in any game.
Good thing, that. They came hot and heavy in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 40-39 loss to Hanover at Hanover High School.
Having had no need to put the palm of one hand atop the fingertips of the other through the night’s first three periods, Marsh and Marauder counterpart Dan O’Rourke spent the last one frequently calling for a quick team meeting. Each came with a different set of circumstances, a different message, a different goal as each squad tried to take home the win, Marsh’s Bobby Fischer trading moves with O’Rourke’s Boris Spassky.
“It’s a chess game,” Marsh explained after his Raiders dropped to 11-4 in NHIAA Division II and 14-4 overall. “You could play chess with the opposing coach. Like I said to the referee, ‘We come out of his timeout, I may call another timeout to see what he’s doing.’ … It’s a chess game.”
The last one won the game for Hanover (11-2, 12-3). With 2 seconds to play and Lebanon seeking the game-winning shot, Hanover’s Lexie Hamilton knocked down an inbounds pass aimed for Lebanon’s Sam MacDonald, denying the visitors a comeback victory. The Marauders survived despite not scoring a field goal in the last 10 minutes, 31 seconds, riding O’Rourke’s timeout-fueled adjustments on defense to complete a regular-season sweep of Lebanon.
“One of our goals is to get a five-second count in every half,” O’Rourke said. “I don’t think we got any tonight, but we work on denying the inbounds pass. I think that saved us towards the end.”
With Hamilton having an off-night from the perimeter and foul trouble dogging Hanover’s interior players, guard J.J. Daniell’s 18-point performance kept the Marauders on the front foot most of the night. Then the fourth quarter arrived, and everyone decided to take a meeting.
Down 36-29 to open the fourth, Lebanon’s Jenny Laramie and Heather King (10 points, 11 rebounds) sank shots and guard MacDonald — all 5 feet, 5 inches of her — crashed the glass for two of her six second-half caroms as the Raiders closed a game-long deficit to a single possession. But Marsh saw a Raider team in danger of getting into a transition track meet, which would have favored athletic Hanover, so he called his first timeout with 5:37 to play.
“I wanted to give them a break, first of all,” Marsh said. “We’d been playing man the whole game and stuff, so I had to give them a little relax time. We talked about attacking the rim, because that seemed to be what was beneficial for us in the second half. Once we started getting to the rim, we started getting them in foul trouble.”
Having Vanessa Fleury back in the lineup has helped Lebanon in that regard. The 6-1 junior takes up space in the paint and forces defenses to make a defensive choice.
Between passes to Fleury on the blocks and MacDonald’s drives to the basket, the Raiders earned enough scoring opportunities to tie the game at 38 with 3:17 left on two Fleury free throws. The moment also coast Hanover the services of its best inside threat, senior Holly Schlosser, who fouled out on the play.
Lebanon had the game deadlocked twice in the first quarter and never led. O’Rourke called a timeout with 1:03 left and his Marauders holding a 40-39 lead on two Daniell foul shots in order to prevent a reversal.
“We went to our spread offense, where our goal is to take high-quality shots,” O’Rourke said. “No outside shots; it’s gotta be layups or driving to the hoop. We’re athletic, all of our kids can handle the ball, so we’re hoping that they would either try to trap us or run at us.”
The Marauders patiently played keepaway until Fleury fouled Hanover’s Cathleen Beliveau — whose six-point third quarter helped keep Lebanon at a discreet distance — leading Marsh to call timeout No. 2 upon the whistle with 19 seconds remaining, for a decidedly different reason.
“We’re trying to ice her,” Marsh said. “Again, give my kids a break and talk about strategy, what to do if she did make the shot. I had plenty of timeouts. I knew down the stretch, in a game like this, every timeout was going to be crucial.”
It worked. Beliveau’s foul shot missed the mark, King snared the rebound and Marsh burned his third timeout with 14 seconds left to set up a final shot. When Beliveau knocked an entry pass bound for Fleury over the Hanover baseline with two ticks remaining, the chess masters made the final moves.
First, Marsh: “I wanted to be patient. We were overloading with two bigs on one side. They had to make a decision, whether they were going to challenge my best shooter from the perimeter or dump down to the post to play my big kid.”
Then, before resuming play, O’Rourke: “I wanted to see the set-up they were in, then we called a timeout to tell them how to defend it. I told the kids, ‘If we play five seconds of solid D, we were going to win the game.’ ”
They did, with Hamilton providing the deciding knockdown and adding to the notion that, even with up to five chances to get things right, basketball’s chess masters are never satisfied.
“You always want more,” Marsh said with a grin.
Free Throws: Daniell hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the first period to give Hanover its first solid lead. She also scored four points in an 8-0 Marauder run in the second as the hosts stretched its edge to a game-high nine points. After scoring in double digits in Hanover’s first five games, last night’s effort was just her third to top 10 points since mid-January. … Believau finished with eight points for Hanover. … Hanover athletic director Mike Jackson did his public-address announcing from the end of the Marauders’ bench. Operating on crutches because of a heavy bandage on his right foot, he’s bound for Achilles’ tendon surgery soon, but hopes to be ambulatory for the start of baseball season in late March. … The win moved the Marauders into a tie for second place in D-II with Souhegan, which is where Hanover is headed for a showdown on Friday night. … The Raiders return to action at Goffstown on Saturday.
Greg Fennell can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3226.