The Nighthawks will graduate five players and three starters after this season
ELIZABETHVILLE - It took just over half an hour for Hanover's players and coaches to leave the locker room after Saturday night's game against Upper Dauphin.
The Nighthawks season had just ended with a 69-56 road loss to the Trojans in the District 3 Class AA quarterfinals, but the Nighthawks weren't ready to say goodbye to each other just yet.
"It was myself, the other coaches and a few of the seniors (speaking after the game)," Hanover head coach Nathan Myers said. "It was a fun group. It was an extremely fun year, especially after what we lost last year. This group bonded really well together, and it's sad to see it end."
As the Nighthawks (16-8) finally made their way out of the locker room, it was hard to find a face that wasn't streaked by tears. Hanover will graduate five seniors, including three starters, from this season's team.
While Myers is used to saying goodbye to seniors, especially after graduating nine players last year, he still got emotional when talking about this year's group. He singled out guards Kyle Krout and Will McQueen as two players who will be especially missed.
"I've always said you do not replace people, that's impossible," Myers said. "I cannot repay all the seniors for what they've done, especially Will and Kyle. Kyle is an outstanding player but an even better young man."
Hanover entered the season in somewhat of a rebuilding process after losing three starters, including the program's all-time leading scorer Dylan Krieger, from last year's 21-4 team. Still, the Nighthawks managed to finish second in Division III and qualify for both the YAIAA and District 3 playoffs.
Despite those accomplishments, Krout admitted that he expected more during his senior season.
"Personally, no not what I expected, I expected to get back to the (semifinals at the) Giant Center," Krout said. "But what I do love is that nobody gave us a chance. Even before the season we weren't sure where we were going to end up, even if above .500 record.
"From as far as we've come, to where we've landed, it's pretty good. I did have higher aspirations, and I think it's good to set high goals like that and give everything you've got to go after them."
Hanover's biggest downfall on Saturday was being unable to find an answer for Upper Dauphin's fast-paced offense. The Trojans (22-3) shot 14-of-25 (56 percent) in the first half and got nearly all of their shots from within 10 feet on the basket.
The Nighthawks went just 8-of-29 in the first two quarters and went into halftime down 14. While big performances from Krout (25 points) and McQueen (15 points) kept the game within reach for most of the third quarter, Hanover was never able shut down the Trojans attack.
Myers praised his players for their effort in the second half. He added that the two-week layoff between the Nighthawks previous game in the YAIAA playoffs and Saturday's contest might have contributed to the loss.
"They had an answer for everything," Myers said. "We did seem a little bit rusty early, but every time we were able to go on a little bit of a run they were able to counter. We were never able to rattle them."
Kyle Krout 11 0-0 25, Will McQueen 5 5-6 15, Martz 2 2-2 8, Hill 0 1-2 1, Hart 1 0-0 2, Bowman 2 0-0 5. Totals — 21 8-10 56.
Upper Dauphin (69)
Matthew Miller 8 6-8 23, Alex Uhler 8 4-6 20, Jordan Gessner 5 4-7 14, Reigner 3 1-2 7, Deitrich 1 0-0 3, Snyder 1 0-0 2. Totals — 26 15-23 69.
Hanover _ 10 _ 8 _ 18 _ 20 _ — _ 56
Upper Dauphin _ 15 _ 17 _ 15 _ 22 _ — _ 69
3-point goals — Hanover 6 (Krout 3, Martz 2, Bowman), Upper Dauphin 3 (Miller, Deitrich).