Watch the top high school basketball plays around the YAIAA from Jan. 14-20. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com
The Nighthawks are 9-7 after beating York County Tech on Friday night
The Hanover boys' basketball team entered this season in a position very similar to the one it was in a year ago.
Once again, the Nighthawks were looking to adjust after losing their leading scorer to graduation. But unlike last season, when star guard Kyle Krout filled the void left by forward Dylan Krieger, the Nighthawks didn't have an obvious candidate to fill Krout's shoes.
The team also brought back just three players with significant varsity experience.
While the Nighthawks have gone through some growing pains this season, they currently have a winning overall record at 9-7. Hanover improved to .500 in Division III play on Friday by beating York County Tech, 69-58.
Hanover entered Friday three spots out of a playoff position in Class 3A, but the Nighthawks aren't thinking about making districts. The team's only goal right now is soaking up as much experience as possible.
"Any experience for us is good experience, that's who we are right now," head coach Nate Myers said. "We are getting better slowly. We've had some peaks and valleys but we're competing."
After relying on the senior backcourt duo of Krout and Will McQueen last season, the Nighthawks now are turning to seniors Hunter Martz and Cole Gebhart as their main scorers. The two couldn't be more different. Martz, a muscular guard who stands 5-foot-9, is a long-range shooter who is second in the league in 3-pointers. Gebhart, on the other hand, is a tall, lanky center who can score in the post.
The emergence of Gebhart has been a much-needed addition for the Nighthawks. After missing nearly all of his sophomore and junior seasons with injuries, Gebhart is averaging 12.2 points this season. He carried the team in the second half of Friday's game, finishing with 21 points and blocking a number of shots.
"It would have been nice to have him (last season)," Myers said. "It's good to have that threat inside who can score. And he's extremely athletic; his ability to run up the floor helps us."
Still, Martz has been the team's go-to scorer and entered Friday seventh in the YAIAA in scoring at 17.8 points per game. A soft-spoken player who leads by example, Martz has adjusted to being the focus of opposing defenses this season.
"I don't really think about it, I just go out and keep shooting," Martz said. "Nobody expected us to win more than four games, and we're at nine right now. I'm just trying to get the most out of (the season) and have fun."
The Nighthawks are still trying to develop in a few areas, mainly their rebounding and defense. Myers also wants the team to become less reliant on 3-pointers offensively, although the team has two players in Martz and Kyle Bowman who can hit shots consistently.
Currently fourth in Division III, Hanover has four more divisional games left to improve its place in the standings.
"We're young and quiet at times but it's been a growing experience for everybody," Myers said.