It was a battle of youth vs. experience at Goffstown High on Tuesday night. Coming into this game Goffstown was 10-5 and Hanover was 10-4. Goffstown has four senior starters, and four girls who started in the D-II finals last season. However it was Hanover, led by a trio of freshmen who went on the road and made a statement by beating Goffstown 54-33.
Leading the way for the Marauders was their freshmen trio - 6-foot-1 forward Silke Milliman (13 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks) and the Schwarz twins Lois and Diana (10 points each).
"It's really over the last two weeks that we've taken off" said Hanover head coach Dan O'Rourke, whose team has now won six games in a row. "The freshmen aren't freshmen anymore."
The freshmen trio combined to score 33 points - 24 of them came in the 2nd half. In the 2nd quarter Diana Schwarz made a steal in the back court and the finished the layup. That play was the spark that ignited Hanover's dominance the rest of the way. It was part of a 15-2 run, as the Marauders quickly went from being down 14-10 to being on top 25-16.
Goffstown sophomore point guard Sarah Doherty answered by hitting a jumper from 18-feet, but Hanover clearly had the momentum at halftime as they led 25-18. The Marauders carried that momentum into the 2nd half. Grizzlies senior guard Molly McQueeney hit a 3-pointer off the catch from the right wing early in the 3rd quarter, but then Hanover countered with an 11-2 run. They really started to push the tempo and move the basketball well. Diana Schwarz zipped a pass ahead on the break to forward Caroline Rodi, who made a great extra pass while falling out of bounds to Lois Schwarz for the layup.
Hanover kept pushing the pace, as Milliman took it to the rim and hit a tough runner in the lane. Then on the other end she made a nice block on one shot attempt and corralled the rebound on another. Then junior wing Caroline Merguerian slashed right through the Grizzlies' defense and got to the rim for an and-1 finish. Goffstown called timeout, now trailing 34-23.
Out of the timeout, Hanover kept on rolling. Lois Schwarz took it hard to the rim for a strong finish in traffic to extend the Marauders' lead to 36-23. Doherty answered on the other end with a drive and and-1 finish. But then hanover got another steal in the back court and got it to Milliman for another layup. It was 40-28 Marauders after 3 quarters.
Hanover kept pouring it on in the 4th quarter, showing why they are a legit contender in D-II. Milliman (scored all 13 of her points in the 2nd half) converted an easy layup off a nicely executed sideline out of bounds play. Then Diana Schwarz slashed to the rim for a tough and-1 finish to make it 44-28 Hanover.
The Marauders were running their half court sets, they were making good reads with the basketball, hitting cutters and attacking the basket. Goffstown was struggling to defend it. Hanover didn't hit a single 3-pointer all game, but you don't need 3's when you are able to get as many layups and free throws as they did.
"Ever since we shot 0/21 in a playoff loss to Oyster River years ago, I haven't been a fan of 3-pointers" said Coach O'Rourke. "We want shots three feet and in, to get the ball inside and work the boards."
Miliman notched her fifth blocked shot of the game on defense, and then on the other end she took it strong to the rim for 2 more. Hanover cruised from there to the 54-33 win.
"I like the make-up of this team" said Coach O'Rourke. "We're playing well at the right time. We hadn't won at Coe-Brown in a decade, but we beat them 64-37. Then we threw a 1-3-1 at Kingswood."
Goffstown id a dangerous team shooting from the outside, but they never really got in a rhythm offensively in this game. Senior wing Katie Howe is one of the best shooters in the state. Her, McQueeney, Hannah Larochelle, Doherty and Sofia Prize can all hit the 3. But in this game the Grizzlies shot just 3/13 from beyond the arc.
"Katie Howe is a great shooter, but tonight Caroline Rodi had the game of her life defending her" said Coach O'Rourke.
Merguerian slashed to the rim for a strong lefty finish, getting Hanover out to an early 4-2 lead in the 1st quarter. Larochelle (team-high 11 points) connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing. On the other end Rodi converted a put-back, and then seconds later Milliman blocked a shot on 'D'. Rodi finished another put-back, but Goffstown answered right back with a floater by Piriz.
It was back-and-forth early on, but then Larochelle made a good dish to junior wing Kasey Britton-Doucette for a layup. Then the Grizzlies showed more good ball movement, as this time it was Larochelle finishing the layup. Goffstown led 11-10 after 1 quarter.
Milliman, the freshman who gotten a lot of hype, had been struggling offensively so far in this game but was definitely making an impact defensively with some nice blocks. Then Howe buried a 3-pointer, extending the Grizzlies lead to 14-10. Hanover answers with a 6-0 run, but then Goffstown wing Sierra Gilmore hits an 18-footer to tie it up 16-16.
The momentum had already begun to shift to Hanover at that point though, as Marion Miller made a layup, Diana Schwarz made a steal and layup and it was all Marauders the rest of the way.
Watch out for the Hanover girls basketball team. They might be young, but they're dangerous.