FRANKLIN, Ind. – A second half scoring run gave the No. 7 Hanover men's basketball team a double-digit lead and the Panthers held off upset-minded Franklin Saturday afternoon, 75-68.
Trailing by one point midway through the second half, freshman Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.) helped spark a 10-0 run, which gave HC a 58-49 lead with 8:16 remaining. Hibbard recorded four of his six points during the scoring spurt.
Franklin (1-5, 0-1 HCAC) used a 6-0 run later in the half to close the HC lead to just four points, 61-57, forcing a Hanover (5-1, 1-0 HCAC) timeout with 4:03 remaining.
Back-to-back buckets from senior Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind.) pushed the lead back out to eight points, but again, FC was able to pull within four points, 65-61, with 2:20 remaining.
Another contested jumper from McKinney put the Panthers up six points, but the Grizzlies would not go away, as a three-pointer made it 69-66, in favor of HC, with 30 seconds remaining.
The Panthers would go on to make all six of their attempts from the foul line in the closing seconds, including four from junior Cam Fails (Mason, Ohio), to secure the victory.
Over the last 3:46 of action, McKinney made three of HC's final four field goals. The senior finished with 22 points and a team high eight rebounds. McKinney tallied 14 of his game-high point total in the first half of play.
Fails added 16 points, scoring eight in each half, while also grabbing four rebounds from the point guard position for the second straight game. Classmate Nick White (New Albany, Ind.) tallied 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while tying a career high with three blocks. White now has three rejections in each of the last two games.
After a cold shooting first half, where HC shot just .344 from the field, the Panthers made 16-of-30 attempts (.533) in the second stanza to finish with a .435 shooting clip. Franklin matched HC with 27 field goal makes in 62 tries.
Hanover's advantage came at the charity stripe where they made 17-of-21 attempts. The Blue and Red outscored the Grizzlies by 12 points at the foul line Saturday.
The Panthers forced 13 Grizzly turnovers as well, which resulted in 18 points, while also outscoring FC in the paint, 36-24.
Hanover made its first two shots from the field, as a White layup and a three pointer from senior Levi Buck (Pendleton, Ind.) gave them an early 5-0 edge. The Blue and Red however made just four of their next 19 attempts from the field and trailed 15-14 with 8:49 left in the opening half.
A 13-4 HC run, capped by a McKinney three, gave the Panther their largest lead of the half at seven points, 31-24, with just under two minutes remaining before the intermission.
The Grizzlies however, tallied the final seven points of the half, including a layup as time expired to tie the contest at 31-all.
Hanover has now won four consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference openers.
The Panthers will look for their third straight win in 2017-18 when they travel to face Transylvania at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 6.
Contact: Tyler Jester