Community Day contest with Bluffton up next for No. 5 Panthers

Colin smith drives to the rim

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HANOVER, Ind. – The No. 5 Hanover men's basketball team will look to bounce back from its first loss of conference play, as they welcome Bluffton for Community Day this weekend.

The Panthers, who will be playing just their second home contest of the 2017-18 season, will tip off in the second half of the Hanover basketball doubleheader at 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9.

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COMMUNITY DAY: In association with the City of Madison, Ind., Hanover will be hosting its second annual Community Day Saturday, with no admission fee. In lieu of admission however, the Salvation Army will be in attendance collecting donations. For a complete line-up for Community Day events, visit http://bit.ly/2zU4MtF.

THE TEAMS: Hanover is off to another strong start in 2017-18, winning five of its first seven games overall. With an 84-83 win, over nationally-ranked Ohio Wesleyan last week, the Panthers vaulted up to No. 5 in this week's edition of the D3hoops.com National Top 25 poll, which is the team's third highest ranking in program history. The Blue and Red have been inside the top 10 nationally all season long and are looking to return to the NCAA Tournament this season, just as they did last year, where they advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the first time in program history.

Bluffton is coming off its first conference victory of the new season this past Wednesday, defeating Earlham 81-78. The Beavers are 2-4 overall, but have yet to win away from home, posting a combined 0-3 record in road/neutral site contests. Kevin Christie leads the scoring for Bluffton, as he is averaging 17.8 points per game for a team averaging 67.3 points per outing.

THE COACHES: The Panthers will have a familiar face on the bench this season, as Jon Miller ('97) is in his 10th season at the helm of his alma mater. Miller recorded his 200th career coaching victory last season and currently holds a 155-92 record at HC. Under Miller, Hanover has won at least 15 games on six separate occasions.

Guy Neal is in his 29th season at the helm for the Bluffton men's basketball program, and has compiled a 329-397 record with the squad. Neal recorded his 300th career win during the final regular season game of the 2014-15 season, which helped propel the Beavers into the HCAC Tournament, where they made a run to the championship game.

LAST TIME OUT: Hanover, who was playing in its second straight road contest to start HCAC play, was unable to stop the Transylvania offense early, as the Pioneers cruised to a 95-81 victory. Two Panthers scored in double figures, including senior Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind.) with 16 points and sophomore Logan Ratts (Martinsville, Ind.), who posted a season high 13 points.
Joining Ratts off the bench was classmate Jacob Bray (Crestwood, Ky.), who set a new career high with eight points, as he made all three of his field goal attempts in just eight minutes of action.

UP NEXT: The Blue and Red will compete in their final HCAC contest of the month, when they travel to face Defiance at 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16. Hanover will wrap up play before the New Year with a pair of neutral site games in a Wittenberg (Ohio) hosted tournament. The Panthers will open tournament play against currently ranked No. 13 Marietta (Ohio).

Contact: Tyler Jester                                                                                    

jestert@hanover.edu