HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover men's basketball team will conclude its home regular season slate this week with games against Earlham and Manchester.
SETTING THE SCENE: The Panthers will host the Quakers and Spartans during the second-to-last week of the regular season. The final two home games prior to postseason play are slated for 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 6, and 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, respectively. Saturday's contest will also be Senior Day.
SENIOR SHINING: Hanover's lone senior, Cam Fails (Cincinnati, Ohio), has put together a special season. Fails is currently averaging a career-high total in points (22.1), rebounds (4.1), assists (4.1) and steals (2.0) per game. His scoring average is ranked 24th nationally, while his assist and steal marks are also among the national leaders in NCAA Division III.
In 101 career games played, Fails has amassed 1,659 points, tying him for seventh all-time at Hanover with the late, great Joe Brunk and inside the top 20 for active Division III players. The senior is six points away from passing 2017-18 senior Wes McKinney and can move into the top five all-time in school history with 19 points. During his four years at HC, the Panthers are 78-28 overall (.730) and 53-14 (.791) in conference play. The Blue and Red have also won two regular season and conference championships, as well as appear in two NCAA Division III National Tournaments in the past three-plus years.
HOME SWEET HANOVER: Since the inception of Collier Arena back in 1995, the Panthers have used their home court to their advantage and the 2018-19 campaign has not been any different. Entering this week, HC is 8-1 at home this season and riding a seven-game win streak. The Blue and Red were 4-0 in January home games, posting an average margin of victory of +18.75 points per outing. Hanover has already secured its 10th consecutive season with a winning record at home and two wins this week will mark its sixth double-digit victory campaign in the same stretch.
JANUARY RUN SETS UP CONFERENCE TITLE HOPES: After producing an 8-1 record during the month of January, all league outings, the Panthers enter this week with a one-game edge over three teams in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings. A strong January has HC 16-5 overall and 11-3 in league play. With four regular season games remaining, the Blue and Red have the inside track to win their third straight title and host the HCAC Tournament.
STIFLING DEFENSE: One of the reasons for HC's success this season is its performance on the defensive end of the floor. Hanover is allowing 62.3 points per game, which leads the HCAC and ranks sixth in Division III. Opponents are shooting just over 40 percent from the field, including a .307 clip from behind the arc, which has the Blue and Red among the national leaders in defensive three-point percentage. The Panthers are adding seven steals and two blocks per game as well.
WILLIAMS WORKING THE POST: Junior Kevin Williams (Edinburgh, Ind.) has been Hanover's most consistent threat down low, averaging nine points and five rebounds per game. Williams tallied 14 points and seven rebounds in both games last week, as he made 14-of-17 field goal attempts. The junior leads the HCAC in season field goal percentage, .728, which would also lead Division III if he was averaging at least five makes per contest.
SOPHOMORE CONTINUES TO SCORE: Second-year player Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.) has scored in double figures in 15 of the last 16 games en route to a season point-per-game mark of 11.1. Hibbard has recorded 10 or more points in six straight and averaged 12 points per game last week. The sophomore also leads the Blue and Red with 5.9 rebounds per contest.
WEIMER MAKES IMPACT: Freshman Matt Weimer (Georgetown, Ind.) was inserted into the rotation last week, including scoring all seven of his points in the closing minutes of a 72-68 win over Rose-Hulman. The freshman added a season-high eight points on the road at Anderson Saturday, while also dishing out three assists. Weimer entered last week with five season points in just 17 minutes of action before totaling 15 points in 40 minutes over a two-game stretch.
SCOUTING EARLHAM: The Quakers, who have lost three straight, will enter Wednesday's contest with a 6-15 overall record and a 5-9 mark in HCAC play, which has them just one game back for the final spot in the HCAC Tournament. Earlham is coming off double-digit losses to Transylvania and Franklin last week and are just 2-8 on the road this winter. EARLHAM STATS
Hanover is currently enjoying its longest winning streak in the all-time series with Earlham, 13 games, and won the first meeting this season on the road, 83-57. Leading by just five points at halftime, the Panthers outscored the Quakers 50-29 in the second half. The Blue and Red made 12 of their final 16 field goal attempts, which included four treys. Overall, HC holds an 82-40 edge in the all-time series and have never lost a league contest against the Quakers since they joined the HCAC in 2010-11.
SCOUTING MANCHESTER: The Spartans entered last weekend with a four-game winning streak but dropped games to Transylvania and Franklin on Saturday and Monday, respectively, falling to 9-12 overall and 6-8 in the HCAC. Manchester is tied for sixth in the league standings with Franklin. The Spartans are 3-7 on the road this season and have won just one of their last six games away from home. Manchester hosts Anderson Wednesday before facing Hanover in its fourth game in seven days. MANCHESTER STATS
Kevin Williams recorded the first double-double of his collegiate career, 22 points and 10 rebounds, as the Panthers defeated the Spartans on the road in early January, 88-69. Cam Fails added 30 points, making 16-of-19 free throw attempts. Hanover has won eight straight in the all-time series with Manchester, a series the Blue and Red lead 99-51.
Contact: Tyler Jester