A 13-4 buffer coming out of the first quarter gave the Hanover Wildcats just enough breathing room to survive a third-quarter comeback attempt as the Wildcats beat the Olpe Eagles 45-40 Wednesday night.
The win came on the opening day of the 1A State Basketball Championship. With the Win, Hanover advances to play Waverly in the 3 p.m. game Friday in the semi-final round.
Olpe goes home with their season now over. They were 23-1 overall this season.
The Eagles didn’t go quietly into the night, however. Down 24-14 at halftime, they outscored the Wildcats 19-6 in the third quarter to enter the fourth quarter trailing only 33-30.
Overall, Hanover head coach Chris Beikmann said his team’s performance was “sloppy.”
“Of course Olpe isn’t going to make it easy on us,” Beikmann said. “They’re a well-coached, good defensive team. We had to battle on the defensive end the whole night, and that’s why I think we didn’t do a great job at times.”
The Wildcats, he said, let the Eagles get penetration, something they wanted to avoid, but with a team as talented as Olpe, it wasn’t going to be possible to stop them every single time.
Still, even after a turnover the team worked to get its moral back up.
There was a play in the final minutes in which the Wildcats narrowly led and inbounded the ball but turned it over before they could cross halfcourt.
Still, on the same play, the player who turned it over got back and made a block, ultimately helping the Wildcats get the ball across halfcourt anyway.
“I told a fan that was congratulating me ‘I think the game was summed up right there,” Beikmann said. “We turn the ball over, but we didn’t give up on ourselves and we somehow, 1-on-3, were able to get the ball back and make a play.”
That player never gave up on herself on the play, and in a way Beikmann said he saw that as a lot like what this team has been this year.
“We’ve battled through some injuries, battled through our TBL League, but after that game right there we’re going to have to take a couple breaths,” Beikmann said. “Good thing we’ve got tomorrow to regroup.”
Senior Macy Doebele had a game-high 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats. She had 14 points in the first half, which matched the entire total for the Olpe team up to that point.
“I don’t know much more I could say about her, she’s a great player,” Beikmann said. “She’s driven our team for the last three years. I believe that’s her seventy-second straight double-digit scoring game. In 1A girls basketball that’s a feat in its own. She just got over 1,500 points last week, and what’s great about her offensively is just as good defensively.”
She brings it every second she’s out on the court, he said. She played every minute of Wednesday’s game.
“I’m never going to probably see as a coach one of those again,” Beikmann said. “Those are hard to come by. Hopefully we can end her season the right way, the way she deserves it.”
Junior Cadlee Stallbaumer also hit double-digit scoring, recording 11 points for the Wildcats, who went on to close the game out by outscoring the Eagles 12-10 in the fourth quarter.
For Olpe, senior Carrie Sleezer finished with a team-high points.
Olpe finishes the season 23-1 overall.
Hanover will play Waverly at 3 p.m. Friday.