SCRANTON — There was no celebration, no elation, no trip to the state tournament for Hanover Area this year.
Just a burning resolve to take what was learned and apply it to next year.
The Hawkeyes came oh-so-close to making states, holding command for most of Friday’s District 2 Class 2A third-place game before falling in overtime to top-seeded Montrose, 50-42.
But coming so close will gnaw at the Hawkeyes through the offseason.
“They will learn from this,” an emotional Hanover Area coach Vic Kopko said. “They’ll become better from it. They’ve got another season under their belt with playoff experience.”
That experience soured on Hanover Area in the final few minutes of regulation at Scranton High School, when Montrose rallied behind a pair of three-pointers by Meghan Gilhool while making up an eight-point deficit in the final seven minutes to take a two-point lead.
Hanover Area tied the game, 40-40, on a bucket by Haylee Bobos with 45 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, but Gilhool hit a couple of free throws and added a basket in overtime as Montrose put away Hanover Area’s state playoff dreams.
“I just told her to keep shooting,” Montrose coach Al Smith said. “I’m just proud of my kids.”
His Meteors will be making their second trip to states in the last three years, and had to rally past a couple clutch performances by the Hawkeyes.
Asdone Hooper scored 13 of Hanover Area’s first 17 points, and finished with a game-high 20 points while helping the Hawkeyes bolt to a 22-17 halftime lead.
Montrose closed within a point in the waning moments of the third quarter, but Hanover Area’s Marissa Keegan hit a four-point play at the buzzer — a three-pointer and ensuing foul shot that opened the margin to five points.
“That was hurtful,” Smith said. “We survived it.”
Montrose was forced to survive Keegan again, as the little guard grabbed a rebound and fired a long assist to Hooper for a three-point play, which put the Hawkeyes up 34-26 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
“Marissa Keegan’s a spark plug,” Kopko said.
But it didn’t hold up.
Amber Grohowski finished with 11 rebounds for Hanover Area, while Myra Lattimore led Montrose with 16 points.
“I think the program is back to respectability,” said Kopko, who has most of his major cogs returning next season. “I think the situation’s bright.”