By ROB WITHAM
Even though it was only their first game of the season, Hanover Hawks girls basketball walked into their gym Friday evening for their home opener against Region 4B rival Dinwiddie with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. But it wasn’t due to cockiness or confidence, as the chip was borne out of disappointment.
The Hawks disappointed themselves in their 57-37 loss at Mills Godwin to start the 2017-18 season two nights earlier. Barely into December, the ladies were ready to right an early wrong and begin to put the pieces together for a season to remember, even better than last year, when Hanover posted a winning record for the first time this decade.
So, when the Generals posted the first two points of the game, it didn’t phase them. Jordan Davis, Rachael Metzger, and the rest of the Hawks went on an 14-2 run, building a lead they’d never relinquish, as Hanover bested Dinwiddie 69-42.
“We made some early mistakes, and I think all of us, coaches, players, got out of whack and lost track of our game plan,” Hanover head coach Mike Rohr said when asked about the Godwin defeat. “Our defense did a really good job tonight. We really hustled in our rotations, our guards were doing a good job in the front, and we were able to push the ball up the court tonight.”
It was the full-court press defense that fueled everything for Hanover (1-1), never allowing the Generals to get into any offensive flow, using all of their strength and athleticism just to get the ball to the front court. A bevy of forced Dinwiddie turnovers turned into Hanover points, taking a 23-10 lead after a period, then, on an And One from Davis, taking control at 39-16 midway through the second.
The Hawks finished the half on another 10-3 run for a 46-19 lead. The second half was a formality on the scoreboard, but for Rohr and his staff, a good opportunity to get playing time for the next generation of Hawks, still getting their collective feet wet at the varsity level.
“We’re extremely lucky, we have awesome kids who really want to listen, learn and they really make an attempt to get better every day, which is really fun for us as coaches,” Rohr explained. “I’ve got to do a better job of, when it’s game time, let them go, and let them play.”
Davis scored 20 of her game-high 23 points in the first half, while point guard Rachael Metzger scored fourteen points in her first home game of the season. Sarah Johnson and Madison Miller, who both will see significantly more playing time this season than last, each scored ten points, while newcomers Julia Mardigian and Adrianna Jacobs both contributed five points.
“This new group is starting at a different level, and I’m excited about it,” Rohr said when talking of Mardigian, Jacobs and other varsity newcomers.
December will be a key month as this team continues to gel. Their early body language suggests a team that truly enjoys playing basketball together. Their first rivalry test comes Friday when Patrick Henry (2-1) comes to the “Bird Cage” at Hanover, followed by road tests at Chancellor and Varina. The Hawks will participate in the Lady Cavs Holiday Classic at Caroline High School on December 19 and 20.
Meanwhile, D.J. Sims scored ten of his team-high fifteen points in the fourth quarter as the young Hanover boys team struggled with the length and athleticism of Dinwiddie in a helter-skelter 66-52 Region 4B loss to fall to 0-2 on the young campaign. Will Fahed added twelve points, while Jaylin Ross scored seven.
In the first of six “Rivalry Night” Fridays this week, Patrick Henry comes to Hanover for a varsity doubleheader, while Lee-Davis will host Atlee. Both girls games tip at 6pm, followed by the boys at 7:30.