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Hanover girls complete Lebanon sweep, head to D-II tourney hoop undefeated

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/26/2021 11:15:45 PM
Modified: 2/26/2021 11:33:30 PM

HANOVER — Dan O’Rourke stood at mid-court with his Hanover High girls basketball team on Friday night, making sure each one of his players had a chance to hold the Weschler Cup. Senior Charlotte Johnson snagged a selfie with the golden trophy. 

Melissa Whitmore tied her season high of 24 points to help the Marauders capture the cup for the second consecutive season and defeat archrival Lebanon, 56-42. Whitmore set the tone from the opening tip, scoring 14 of her 24 in the opening quarter. 

Stella Galanes added 13 points for Hanover, which finishes the regular season undefeated. Johnson had 11 points. 

“I’ve said all year Melissa has really gone to the next level,” O’Rourke said. “Being 6-foot-1, she is a very good shooter and at the same time, if you come out on her, she’s versatile and can go inside. We have three shooters around her that just makes her more dangerous.”

Earlier in the week at Lebanon, the two teams went punch-for-punch with Hanover walking out of Lang Metcalf Gymnasium with a close 29-28 victory. Raiders coach Emily Kehoe credited Tuesday’s close game to not letting Hanover’s runs make an impact. 

On Friday night, the big Hanover charge came in the second quarter, and it did make an impact. Leading 16-12 after the second stanza, the Marauders went on a 9-4 run in the first four minutes, forcing Kehoe to take a timeout. 

That couldn’t quell the Marauders, who were just getting started. They outscored Lebanon, 9-2, in the final four minutes to take a 34-18 lead into the break. Galanes and Johnson each contributed five points for Hanover (13-0) in the second. 

“I think our defensive intensity was low,”said Kehoe, whose team wrapped up the regular season 8-3. “We made a lot of defensive mistakes, and I think that was one of our strengths the other night was that we didn’t make many mistakes. A team like Hanover, it doesn’t matter how you do on offense. It’s all about how you do on defense. 

“Plus, they were making their shots tonight. We gave them more open looks than we did last time, and they delivered on them.”

The Sally Rainey-led Raiders wouldn’t go quietly in the fourth quarter. The senior finished the night with at least four steals and scored seven of her 13 points in the final frame. 

With 3:15 remaining in the contest, Hanover took a timeout as it clung to a 49-35 lead. Coming out of the break, Rainey took a charge to flip possession. Teammate, Molly Smith knocked down a jumper on the other end to cut it to a 12-point game, the closest Lebanon would get after the Marauders’ second-quarter run. 

Ella Longacre finished with 12 points and Catherine Cole had eight for Lebanon. 

“The one play that epitomes Sally as a player, competitor and athlete is when she laid out like she does as a goalie and flicked the ball out in front of our bench,” O’Rourke said. “I can say, in my 25 years as a coach, I don’t recall a kid doing that. She jumped right back up; I admire her competitiveness and spirit. As Sally goes the team goes.”

While it was Hanover celebrating Friday night’s capture of the Weschler Cup, the NHIAA Division II tourney starts next week. 

Last year, the Raiders knocked off the Marauders, 60-56, in the semifinals. Lebanon was crowned co-champion because COVID-19 wiped out the title game, but the playoff victory gave the Raiders some serious bragging rights. 

The two teams are in the same region this postseason. Hanover will host either Bow or John Stark in the prelims while Lebanon will travel to Con-Val. A meeting in next Sunday’s quarterfinals seems probable. 

“We didn’t lie down in the fourth quarter, and I think that proves we’re ready for the playoffs,” Kehoe said. “Odds are we probably will see Hanover again. I hope we do, and I hope we show up and play just as hard these last two games.”

Pete Nakos can be reached at 

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