The Nighthawks fell behind 13-5 in the game's first five minutes
In the final 27:32 of Saturday night's contest, Hanover played Columbia evenly and matched them at 45 points apiece.
Unfortunately for the Nighthawks, the game's first 4:28 didn't go as well.
Against a talented Crimson Tide squad, the Nighthawks were unable to overcome a slow start that put them in an early eight-point hole, falling 58-50 in the title game of the Hanover Tip-Off Tournament.
"We sort of hurt ourselves coming out of the gate," Hanover coach Nathan Myers said. "They jumped on us, and we could never get back to even. We got close, but we could never get it over the hump there."
The Nighthawks would keep it close after that, outscoring the Crimson Tide in the second and third quarters and cutting the deficit to 44-40 heading into the fourth. But Columbia answered every big Hanover basket with one of its own down the stretch to hold on.
Early on, the Nighthawks biggest issue was closing out on Columbia senior guard Jack Hess, who hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter. As the game went on, though, Hanover simply wasn't able to match Columbia's efficiency.
Both teams had no trouble driving to the basket all night, but while the Crimson Tide completed the majority of their layups and got a number of second chances off of offensive rebounds, the Nighthawks had shot after shot fall out. Hanover also struggled from the foul line, making 63 percent (12-of-19) of its attempts.
"It's extremely frustrating but you've got to keep shooting because eventually they'll fall," senior guard Kyle Krout said. "Small things were key, rebounding, boxing out on foul shots. It's nothing major we did wrong, which is good because it's an easy fix."
Even in defeat, the Nighthawks showed plenty of positives. Krout and backcourt mate Will McQueen both hit big shots and finished with 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Hunter Martz also played well in his second game back after missing all of last season, and sophomore forward Bryce Hart held his own and finished with nine points.
"(Bryce) got the jitters out, and he went to the glass hard, made some nice moves," Krout said. "He played like a junior or senior."
While the loss was frustrating, Myers said the team needs to look at it as a learning experience and not as a missed opportunity.
"There's not a game on our schedule we can't win, but there's not a game we can't lose," Myers said. "Absolutely it was a winnable game. We didn't help ourselves enough tonight."
Before the title game, Newport defeated West Perry, 41-31, in the consolation game. Columbia guard Justin Walton was named the MVP of the tournament.
Columbia 58, Hanover 50
Justin Walton 4 2-2 10, Meleik Crenshaw 2 1-2 6, Jarod Kashner 6 1-2 13, Jack Hess 4 0-0 12, Tyler Harman 4 2-2 10, Jaden Neal 1 1-1 3, Tyreese Musser 1 0-0 2, Alex Retamar 1 0-2 2, AJ Smith 0 0-2 0.
Totals — 23 7-13 58
Kyle Krout 5 4-4 15, Will McQueen 3 4-6 11, Hunter Martz 3 3-5 10, Bryce Hart 4 1-4 9, Kyle Bowman 1 0-0 3, Brent Hill 1 0-0 2
Totals — 17 12-19 50
Columbia _ 17 _ 16 _ 11 _ 14 _ — _ 58
Hanover _ 10 _ 17 _ 13 _ 10 _ — _ 50
3-point goals — Columbia 5 (Hess 4, Crenshaw 1) Hanover 4 (Krout, McQueen, Martz, Bowman)