Hanover 49, Pembroke 43: Bears use smart, methodical play in semifinal

Pembroke guard Joe Fitzgerald (20) is surrounded by four Hanover players as he attempts to go to the basket during the second half of the Division II semifinal game at Oyster River High School on Tuesday night, March 5, 2024.

Pembroke guard Joe Fitzgerald (20) is surrounded by four Hanover players as he attempts to go to the basket during the second half of the Division II semifinal game at Oyster River High School on Tuesday night, March 5, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Pembroke guard Zack Bennis battles Hanover guard Ryan Mclaughlin during the second half of the Division II semifinal at Oyster River High School on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.

Pembroke guard Zack Bennis battles Hanover guard Ryan Mclaughlin during the second half of the Division II semifinal at Oyster River High School on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.

Pembroke forward Aldyn Jeski comforts teammate Evan Berkeley as the Hanover team begins to celebrate during the end of the Division II semifinal at Oyster River High School on Tuesday, Mrch 5, 2024.

Pembroke forward Aldyn Jeski comforts teammate Evan Berkeley as the Hanover team begins to celebrate during the end of the Division II semifinal at Oyster River High School on Tuesday, Mrch 5, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Concord Monitor

Published: 03-06-2024 1:31 PM

Modified: 03-06-2024 5:29 PM


DURHAM, N.H. — Entering Tuesday night’s Division II boys’ basketball semifinal, the No. 3 Pembroke Spartans (18-3) knew exactly what No. 2 Hanover (19-1) was going to do: run a remarkably methodical offense and play smart, disciplined defense.

Pembroke knew what it was walking into Oyster River High School to face, but it couldn’t get the job done.

The Bears raced out to an 11-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, and although the Spartans had cut the lead to 21-18 by halftime and were within three (41-38) with 1:24 left in the game, Hanover prevailed, 49-43.

“I thought we showed great poise in this game, especially down the stretch in a back and forth game,” Hanover head coach Ben Davis said.

It was a game of conflicting styles — Pembroke, which wants to get out and run on offense, and Hanover, which is perfectly content to drain two minutes off the clock before even attempting a shot. From the beginning, it was the Bears who dictated the pace of play.

“They pass the ball extremely well, they defend extremely well, they rebound real well,” Pembroke head coach Mike Donnell said of Hanover. “What they don’t do that most of us all do is, they don’t make mistakes. It’s always the team that makes the fewest mistakes that usually wins in the end. They made a lot less than us tonight.”

The semifinal was a rematch of a game from Jan. 15 that the Bears won, 53-31.

That game caught the Spartans a bit off guard; this time, even with Pembroke prepared for Hanover’s style of basketball, the Spartans still couldn’t get over the hump.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Protests of president punctuate rainy graduation for Dartmouth’s Class of ’24
Fairlee coffee shop creates a buzz around town
Judge: Hanover wrong to deny right-to-know request
New Hartford middle school dean of students seeks to repair relationships
Young bear spotted relaxing on a hammock in a Vermont yard
Taken for taxes and ‘waiting to die’: A homeowner struggles to keep his home

The Bears’ length plays a major role in the success of their defense, which does a tremendous job of helping on the ball, pinching toward the rim and preventing second-chance scoring opportunities. None of the six players who played significant minutes for the Bears were shorter than 6-0; four were 6-2 or taller.

“Our group was not rattled in the big moments and continued to play confidence and execute to earn the win against a tough Pembroke team,” Davis said.

Hanover’s Oriol led all scorers in the game with 19 points.

For Pembroke, senior Joe Fitzgerald led the Spartans with 16 points, half of which came in the fourth quarter.