If anyone ever doubted that there wasn't much of a basketball rivalry between the Hanover High Nighthawks and the Littlestown Thunderbolts, he should have been to Wednesday night's boys' game between the schools.
The game had all the intensity of a playoff game and, despite leading most of the game, the Hawks (10-5, 4-4 YAIAA IV) had to hold off the Bolts (5-9, 3-5 YAIAA III) down the stretch to come away with a 53-47 win at the Hawk House.
"Every win for is a good win," Hanover coach Nate Myers said. "We have yet to win a game where we play at a certain level. There are always peaks and valleys throughout the game. If we could somehow someway stretch our peaks out, who knows what we could do? We are learning and I have to keep reminding myself how extremely young we are. It's extremely fun and also extremely frustrating at the same time."
The Bolts gave notice they came to play when they jumped out to a six-point lead in the first quarter. Just when they looked like they had their offense working, they went the final 3 1/2 minutes of the quarter without scoring.
Hanover, meanwhile, found its stride by scoring 12 straight points to go up 12-6 after the first eight minutes of the game. Brady Goodfellow came off the bench for the Hawks to ignite the offense with four points. It was a sign of things to come as Hanover outscored the Bolts 17-0 in bench points.
Both teams struggled with offensive continuity in the second quarter as the Hawks were able to build their lead to nine points at 23-14.
Strangely missing from Hanover offense was leading scorer Dylan Krieger. The sophomore center was held to just two points in the first half. That all changed in the third quarter as he erupted for 14 points. All came over the final four minutes of the quarter. At one time, he scored 14 straight points for the Hawks as they took a nine-point lead into the final quarter.
The lead would grow to 47-34 midway through the quarter when the Bolts caught fire. Though they were never able to tie the game, Littlestown was able to outscore the Hawks 13-6 down the stretch to force the Hawks to play to the end.
The backbreaker came with 12 seconds remaining in the game when Drew Vogel missed a pair of free throws with Hanover leading 51-47. Instead of getting the ball back the Bolts failed to block out Hanover's Austin Brown, who came up with the ball and scored to push the lead back to six points.
Krieger's scoring in the third period was good enough for a team-high 16 points. Nick Trish backed him up with 10.
"Regardless of what happened in the game, it all came down to us making shots. We have to make our shots." Littlestown coach Scott Motter said. "We struggle at the end of games because we are too new at this. We aren't used to being there at the end of games. We are learning, though. We are creating basketball players in Littlestown.
"This match-up between Hanover and us isn't just a game. It's a rivalry now. Their coach said, 'I'm glad we don't play you guys again.' That's a big compliment for us."
Littlestown got 16 points from Ryan Kehr and 13 from Austin Towner.
A 29-2 lead at the half was enough for Hanover to cruise to a 57-16 win in the jayvee game. Cam Bosserman had 13 points and Will McQueen had 11 to power the Hawks' offense.
Hildebrand 0 0-0 0, Austin Towner 6 1-4 13, Ryan Kehr 8 0-0 16, Alejandez 0 0-0 0, Zimmerman 3 1-2 7, Trout 1 1-3 3, Becker 3 2-2 8. Totals 21 5-11 47.
Nick Trish 3 4-5 10, Krout 1 0-0 2, Goodfellow 3 1-2 8, Dylan Krieger 8 0-0 16, Sheaffer 0 0-0 0, Drew Vogel 2 0-2 4, Brown 3 1-2 7, Rhodes 3 0-0 6, Peterman 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 6-11 53.
Littlestown 6 8 18 15 -- 47
Hanover 12 11 18 12 -- 53
3-point goal -- Hanover 1 (Goodfellow).
JV score -- Hanover 57, Littlestown 16.