MANCHESTER — The Hanover High girls’ basketball team used its depth in the Division II final on Friday to beat Kennett of Conway 52-41 at Stan Spirou Field House. Seven of nine players scored for the top-seeded Marauders (21-1), who are champions for the first time since 2008, while playing an up-tempo style that the third-seeded Eagles (20-2) could not keep pace with while playing three of five starters for all 32 minutes.
“We consider ourselves two starting units,” Hanover coach Dan O’Rourke said. “One of the keys to our success this season was being able to go 10 players deep. Again tonight, our second group actually extended the lead. We broke it down into four-minute quarters (for each unit). We said if every team wins their four-minute battle, then they’re not going to come back from a 10-point deficit.”
The Marauders led 29-20 at halftime, maintaining a cushion they gave themselves late in the first quarter when they closed on an 8-2 run. Hanover’s lead never fell below six in the second half and peaked at 13 points late in the third quarter.
Maddie McCorkle paced Hanover with 15 points and Julia Golder finished in double figures with 11 while the Marauders held a 20-0 edge in bench points. Maddie Stewart and Isabel Wrobleski scored 14 and 10 to lead Kennett, which shot 30 percent from the field.
Tempo had a lot to do with why Hanover flourished as McCorkle, Diana Schwarz, Lois Schwarz and Charlotte Johnson were among many Marauders motoring up and down the floor throughout the night. Kennett was up to the challenge early, but did not have the same depth as Hanover to preserve legs and keep racing alongside the Marauders.
“They were just gassed,” said Kennett coach Larry Meader, who joined his coaching staff in trying to rally players to switch to full-court pressure in the second half. “Credit to Hanover for being able to go deep and Dan just has them run, run, run and run. Especially on a big college floor, it’s tough to keep up.”
The Marauders trained all season to withstand 32 minutes of sprinting up and down the court, according to McCorkle.
“We do a lot of conditioning transition drills and (O’Rourke) always says ‘It may hurt now, but when we get to the fourth quarter in the playoffs and legs are dead, 3-pointers are not going to fall,’” McCorkle said. “We were just keeping the pace and making them play to our game. … If you get tired, you know you have a sub coming. Knowing that forces you to push yourself and work your hardest.”
Rebounding proved to be another key for Hanover as it wound up with a 44-30 advantage on the glass. Nineteen of those boards were offensive and led to 18 second-chance points. Golder pulled down seven rebounds while Willet Parkins and Anna Kirkpatrick recorded six apiece.
“Most kids, when the shot goes up, turn and watch the ball,” O’Rourke said. “What I’ve been trying to tell them is when that shot goes up, turn and go get the ball. The ball isn’t coming to you and you need to go get it. We’re used to doing that now and it led to a lot of easy points today.”
Kennett’s shortcomings on the glass paired with a lack of execution offensively to create its demise.
“Their defense and that tempo tended to make us rush shots versus catching and shooting, which threw us out of our game early,” Meader said. “We had plenty of looks and played good defense, holding them scoreless for a while there in the second and third quarters. We were just never able to score during all that.”