BY Rob Witham
When you’re about to start a stretch of five games in eight nights with less than two weeks left in the regular season, you have a right as a coach to worry. Add to that a dogfight for a bye to the quarterfinals of the upcoming Region 4B Tournament, and the pressure is on.
But that pressure was nowhere to be found on Monday night as the Hanover Hawks absorbed two quick Douglas Freeman baskets, then took off, cruising to a quick 59-30 victory to move to 13-5 as they battle for that bye, and a chance to rest up a bit, before the one and one pressure of the playoffs arrives.
“We came out with really good energy, and we executed really, really well,” said Hanover head coach Michael Rohr. “Our defense was really good, and offensively, that’s the best we’ve played together. We’re making the extra pass, and finishing shots.”
This 13th win matches the total of last year’s team, which was the first Hanover team to get to 13 wins since 2009. This year, it’s with four games left in the regular season. The Hawks are in prime position to bypass the first round of the Region 4B Tournament, the inaugural edition beginning February 16th. There are thirteen teams fighting for two goals: a region title, but, more importantly, a bid to the Class 4 State Tournament beginning March 2nd.
But Eastern View and Caroline each also have five losses, while Chancellor, Powhatan and defending 4A state champion Monacan each have six. Six teams fighting for the second, third and fourth seeds behind King George, currently the region leader at 16-1.
Jordan Davis scored ten of her game-high 16 points in the first quarter as the Hawks took a 20-8 lead after a period. Rachael Metzger dished out two quick assists as the Hawks scored the first six points of the second period to extend the lead over the Rebels to 18.
The rest of the game was a clinic, Hanover denying Douglas Freeman’s desire to pound the ball down low, while getting to the rim almost at will. Sarah Johnson scored eight of her 14 points in the third quarter as the lead swelled to 28. With no fouls called in the second half until 6:11 left in the contest, the victory was perfect for a team facing so much action down the stretch. In real time, the Hawks earned the victory in some 63 minutes.
“I think they’re understanding that nobody has to score twenty points. If they all score ten, we’re pretty good,” Rohr opined. “It’s just a matter of them starting to trust each other more. If they give it up, they’re going to get it back. They’re finding the open person.”
Meanwhile, for the Hanover boys, a disappointing season continued Monday, falling at Midlothian 64-55 to fall to 1-16. Hanover is likely to play in the Region 4B Tournament play-in game next Friday as the #13 seed, traveling to the #12 seed. Both Hawks teams have dates with Glen Allen Thursday, travel to Atlee on Friday, then finish the regular season against Deep Run on Monday.
In Region 5B, the Lee-Davis boys will not get to see their season continue in their tournament, as that region only invites the top eight finishers. So, the Confederates took some frustration out on the Hawks on Friday night, getting a 68-62 victory at home to sweep the regular season series over Hanover for their fifth win of the season.
It was a big night for Adonis Carroll, who poured in 26 points for the Confederates in the victory, while Devin Christian added 15. D.J. Sims was a bright spot for the Hawks, scoring 18 points for the game.
Also Friday night, Jayce Catterton led Atlee with 21 points as the Raiders completed a season sweep of Patrick Henry with a 64-54 win in Ashland. Andrew Cook added twelve points for the Raiders, while Devyn Coles and Jamel Jackson each scored 15 points for the Patriots.
The Atlee girls also swept the Patriots, taking a 58-46 win to start the Rivalry Night doubleheader. Freshman Kelly Ayer continues her strong debut season for the Raiders with a 19-point performance as Atlee improved to 11-8, while Patrick Henry fell to 5-13.