Hanover’s Comeback Kids Do It Again

  • Hanover's Isabella Bardales does a reverse layup during Hanover's game with Windham in Hanover, N.H. on Feb. 28, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover's Julia Golder comes down with the rebound with Windham's Steph Davis behind her during their game in Hanover, N.H., on Feb. 28, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Hanover bench reacts to a play during the last minute of their game with Windham in Hanover, N.H., on Feb. 28, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 3/1/2017 12:05:58 AM
Modified: 3/1/2017 12:06:05 AM

Hanover — As someone studies the heart by trade, Dan O’Rourke can recognize a myocardial infarction waiting to happen. He’s seen it over and over again with his Hanover High girls basketball team this winter, too.

An ultimately futile rally in the Marauders’ home game with Lebanon just before Christmas was the first warning sign. Double-digit deficits later turned into comeback wins against John Stark, Bishop Brady, Manchester West (on a buzzer-beater) and Merrimack Valley, a victory built on a 15-point return from the dead in the game’s final three minutes.

“I was beginning to realize, as a cardiologist, that my coaching job was more stressful than my real job,” O’Rourke joked on Tuesday night.

Thus begat Hanover’s cardiac kids. The fifth-seeded Marauders’ 56-40 defeat of No. 12 Windham in an NHIAA Division II tournament opener at Dartmouth College’s Leede Arena had people checking their pulses for a half before Hanover (16-3 league, 17-5 overall) outdistanced the Jaguars (9-10 league) on the strength of a 14-0 third-quarter run.

The Marauders, who closed their regular season on Feb. 23 with a 52-36 win at Windham, received a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double from Julia Golder to go with 12 Maddie McCorkle points and 11 more from Diana Schwarz. Hanover will visit No. 4 Pelham on Friday in a D-II quarterfinal.

“I would say a lot of our games have been close,” a grinning Golder said. “The Merrimack Valley game (a 64-63 road victory on Jan. 25), I think, showed how we can come back. … It was a really big turn in our season and helped us spark our potential.”

Faith and hard work overcame a sluggish first half in which the Marauders seemed reluctant to shoot in a gym in which they rarely play.

Hanover again focused its attention on defending lanky Windham sophomore Steph Davis, the straw that stirs the Jags’ drink. Marauder defenders forced Davis to her left and held her to five points on the night, but that only served as an opening for others to step forward.

Tiny guard Ali Scheibel was the first to set Hanover hearts aflutter. Scheibel scored nine of her 10 points in the opening period, seven of them in a 10-3 run that closed the quarter with Windham holding a 14-12 lead.

Kaleigh Walsh carried over a good opening stanza into a better second to boost the visitors’ edge to 28-22 by the half. Walsh (team-high 15 points) hit a putback and added two free throws to a 8-1 run that finished the period with more than a few Marauder rooters concerned.

“We just knew what to expect; they do what they do, and they do it well,” third-year Windham coach Anne Haky said of the Marauders. “I think it was helpful to see what they did (last week), which was why we had such a great first half. I just think we ran out of gas in the second half.”

That’s because O’Rourke’s bunch, even in the midst of clearing a few clogged arteries, don’t quit working.

Hanover started by ratcheting up the full-court pressure, which in turn sped up the game. A Golder hoop with 6:09 left in the third kicked off the 14-point burst that ultimately turned a 30-23 deficit into a 37-30 lead with 1:37 left in the stanza. Golder contributed six points to the charge, during which the Jags committed seven turnovers and went 0-for-4 from the floor.

“At home, we have a big court, and a lot of teams don’t have a big court,” Golder said. “Even though this court (at Leede) is bigger, I think our speed helps us tire out other teams and get an advantage on them.”

O’Rourke emphasized Golder’s importance to Hanover’s success. It’s taken time to convince the sophomore of her potential — O’Rourke vocally reminded the 5-foot-10 center to attack the basket early and often — and the Marauders are reaping the benefits. Golder also had a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards in last week’s win at Windham.

“This was a transition for her all year, where she’s looking for her shot, and she hasn’t always done that,” O’Rourke said. “I told her over and over she’s an all-state player. She just has to believe in herself and take over.”

The longtime Hanover coach has since recognized his team’s trademark with T-shirts that include an EKG on them. The Marauders don’t always make it easy on their coach, but a season’s evidence — backed by Tuesday’s result — provided the diagnosis.

A little bit of heart can go a long way.

Free Throws: The Marauders made use of Leede because of a boys basketball conflict; Hanover hosted Bishop Brady in the high school gym on Tuesday night. Hanover athletic director Mike Jackson said he was reluctant to move that game because of the schedule congestion typical late in a winter season. Hanover must pay for people working on union contracts, such as security, to host at Leede, but the use of the gym itself is free. … Only the east stands, the ones opposite the benches, were pulled out for the contest. About 200 folks came out for the game. … Fourth-seeded Pelham rolled over No. 13 Souhegan, 70-45, in their tourney opener. The Marauders haven’t met the Pythons (17-2 league) since the 2013-14 season, when Hanover posted a 61-43 home win in the regular season and a 70-49 decision in the first round of the D-II tournament. … Game time Friday is 7 p.m.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.

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