CEDAR LAKE | Any convincing argument, persuasive speech or rousing tribute needs a strong opening statement and a solid closing line.
Hanover Central convinced the rest of the Porter County Conference that its lame-duck status is not going to make the Wildcats easy prey this season by following a similar outline Friday night during homecoming.
Unfazed by a loss to South Central on Nov. 10, the Wildcats got into the win column in PCC play and made a strong case for conference contender status with a 67-36 win over visiting Times No. 9 Hebron.
“We wanted this win more than anything,” said Hanover Central senior Blayr Poston, who poured in her season average, 22 points.
“We gathered ourselves up and knew to play our best.”
With the win the Wildcats (4-2, 1-1) took the Kup, the PCC’s renowned traveling trophy for girls basketball, for the first time since Poston was in eighth grade.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do with it yet other than paint it,” Poston said. “It means a lot, this being my first time having it.”
An 8-0 run to start the game forced a Hebron timeout 100 seconds into the contest in front of a rowdy crowd. The Hawks (4-2, 2-1) responded with eight points to end the first quarter, but Hanover held a 19-16 lead after one and did not trail for a single second in the game.
Hanover hit nine of its 15 3-point attempts with Poston going 4-for-4 on the way to a 9-for-11 night from the floor.
“We proved to everybody we are definitely better than Hebron and they should not be ranked,” Poston said.
The Wildcats had fluid ball movement, evidenced by the double-digit scoring outputs by Tiphani Ward and Kristen Roper. Poston told Ward to keep shooting, which the 5-foot senior did for three treys.
“We did a good job spreading the ball around,” Hanover coach Doug Nelson said. “Poston was hot, but other people stepped up and made shots.”
Defensively the Wildcats held the Hawks to four fourth-quarter points to solidify the victory and continued to crash the boards when the lead oscillated between the high 20s and low 30s.
“We did a better job identifying their scorers, and that is a quality team there,” Nelson said.
Madison Bell led Hebron with 10 points, and Bre Lewin added nine.
With Hanover set to leave the PCC after this season, the Kup could have a permanent home in Cedar Lake. However, Nelson isn’t willing to look any further down the schedule than his next league game, at Washington Twp. next Friday.
“If we can continue to play at this rate, we’ll be fine,” Nelson said.
“I’m happy with the way we played.”