By Nathaniel Ford
BOW – The Hanover Bears dominated in their 12-point win on the road, 64-52, against the Bow Falcons in Division II action and improved to 6-1 on the season.
Hanover is one of the best teams in the entire state defensively, holding teams to 27.8 points a game on average. While the score does not reflect this, they showed their dominance on the defensive end once again.
“Our defensive success this year has been predicated on all five guys working together on the court. We’ve got individual players that are good defensively, but when we are all thinking about helping each other, we are able to contain guys like Jake [Reardon],” said Hanover coach Ben Davis.
This success was shown early in this contest, limiting the Falcons to just 2 points in the first six minutes of play. During that time, Hanover was able to pour in 9 points of their own, giving them a comfortable lead.
The Bears continued to shut down the Falcons on the defensive end, and offensively, they were led by sophomore Ryan McLaughlin, who was averaging 14.3 points a game coming into tonight. In the first, he scored 10 points by himself, including two three-pointers.
“He makes us go just pushing the tempo in transition. When he’s on and he’s clicking, it makes us a totally different offensive team,” said Davis.
Bow could not get any shots to fall and knocked down just one shot from the field. Behind this stellar performance, Hanover led 16-5 going into the second.
In the second, Hanover slowed the game down, which is a tempo they have loved to play at this season. They thrive in low scoring games, which have been many of their contests this season. McLaughlin continued to lead the Hanover offense, pumping in 7 more points this quarter.
Bow continued to struggle offensively and could not get in a consistent rhythm on that end of the court. Most of their shots were heavily contested by the Bears, and they struggled to get any easy looks. Jake Reardon, who is averaging over 22 points a game, had just three points, all free throws, at halftime.
“We were swarming him tonight and making things difficult on him, which is what our goal was,” said Davis. Hanover focused on making Reardon’s life tough in this game, and it was a huge success.
Due to their stout defense, Hanover brought a large 34-17 lead into halftime. McLaughlin was leading the way with an impressive 17 points through the first two quarters.
At the start of the third quarter, Bow started to show some life. Keenan Hubbard had a big and-one basket for the Falcons, and Jacob Littlefield and Colby Smith both knocked down shots from beyond the arc. These huge baskets got the Falcon bench on their feet and cut the Hanover lead to 11 points.
However, the Bears stayed composed, and coming out of their timeout, McLaughlin knocked down a massive three-pointer to kill the momentum Bow built. A couple more Hanover baskets caused a 7-0 run and extended the lead back up to 18 points.
Reardon got a basket inside at the buzzer, but the Hanover lead remained massive at 47-31 entering the fourth quarter.
The Falcons needed a comeback, and they turned up the pressure. Their full-court press gave Hanover all sorts of problems, forcing a ton of turnovers.
“Second half was a little bit different. They turned up their pressure a little bit and were doubling the ball and giving us problems. We were fortunate to build a lead so we could weather the storm there at the end,” said Davis.
This lead proved to be too large, as Bow could only cut it as low as 9 points in the final frame. When all was said and done, Hanover walked away with a 64-52 victory.
The Bears were led by a game high 28 points from Ryan McLaughlin, and Wyatt Daigle added 11 points of his own.
The Falcons offensive output was very balanced, with Keenan Hubbard (11), Jake Reardon (10) and Colby Smith (10) all recording double figures.
Hanover’s improvement from last season is nothing short of spectacular. They started off last season with an 0-12 record, they have now completely flipped the script and are 6-1 this season.
“We’ve got a big test against Manchester West on Friday at home. It should be a good game, but they’re gonna come at us with their athleticism and defensive intensity,” said Davis.
Bow fell to 3-3 after this loss and looks to bounce back on Friday in a home matchup against 2-3 Milford.