The Hanover High Nighthawks' starting lineup consisted of a freshman, three sophomores and a junior.
Despite the varsity inexperience, Hanover's players grew up in a hurry as they defeated Littlestown 55-38 in the semifinal round of the Nighthawk Tip-Off Tournament on Friday at Hanover High School.
Freshman Kyle Krout knew that he was going to get the start on Friday night, but he had no idea he would score 14 points and nail four 3-pointers.
"I was a bit nervous at first," Krout said. "It was very nerve-wracking, but I was ready to play."
It showed just a few minutes into the game as he nailed a 3-pointer to put the Nighthawks ahead 5-2.
"Hitting the three early calmed me right down," Krout said. "Right after hitting that shot, I felt great and everything, all the nerves, went away."
The nerves went away for the entire Hanover team as Krout's three started a 9-0 surge to allow Hanover to jump out, 11-2.
"We are very young," Hanover head coach Nathan Myers said. "I think the early threes helped us get rid of our nerves. We jumped out and let them right back. Then we hit another big run heading into the half and it gave us some separation."
After Littlestown tied the game at 14, Hanover scored the final 18 points of the half, including eight points from Krout, to go into the half with a 32-14 lead. Hanover held Littlestown to a mere three second-quarter points.
Things did not get any easier on the offensive side of the ball for Littlestown in the third quarter as they were limited to only two points, while Hanover extended their lead to 49-16.
"We came out of the locker room and just kept going," Myers said. "It was a great effort from everyone that was involved in the game."
Littlestown employed a 2-3 zone for much of the game and the Nighthawks were able to nail down eight 3-pointers by finding the open man.
"I hope we don't fall too much in love with the three," Myers said. "We still want to go to the rim and get to the foul line. It was nice early to hit a couple against the zone, though. I think it forced them to go man and it allowed us to do some other things."
Zac Sheaffer tied Krout for the team high with 14 points while adding two three-pointers of his own. Braden Becker led the way for Littlestown with 14 points.
All night, the Hanover defense forced Littlestown to turn the ball over, leading to fast break opportunities. The defensive effort was exactly with Myers was looking for.
"Our defensive pressure is something that we have worked extremely hard on," he said. "The guys have bought into it. If we don't defense well, we could be in for some long nights. I thought our team defense was very good tonight.
Jacob Rhodes and Austin Brown limited Littlestown to very few points in the paint.
"Defensively and offensively, our big men did great," Krout said. "Jacob Rhodes exceeded my expectations against their big men. Austin also played well."
The Thunderbolts play at 6 p.m. Saturday against Shippensburg in the consolation round and Hanover plays Columbia at 7:30 p.m. in the championship game.
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