Hanover 42, Lebanon 32: McLaughlin matches Raiders’ tally on her own to open season

The Lebanon bench cheers as their teammate Isabelle Hamilton (2) looks to pass the ball after a turnover while being guarded by Hanover’s Bella Hunt (13) during a game at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. Hanover won, 42-32. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

The Lebanon bench cheers as their teammate Isabelle Hamilton (2) looks to pass the ball after a turnover while being guarded by Hanover’s Bella Hunt (13) during a game at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. Hanover won, 42-32. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america — Alex Driehaus

Lebanon guard Norah Burns (13) dribbles toward the basket while being defended by Hanover guard Bella Hunt (13) during a game at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. Hanover won, 42-32. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Lebanon guard Norah Burns (13) dribbles toward the basket while being defended by Hanover guard Bella Hunt (13) during a game at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. Hanover won, 42-32. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Hanover guard Sydney McLaughlin shoots a free throw during a game at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. Hanover won, 42-32. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hanover guard Sydney McLaughlin shoots a free throw during a game at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. Hanover won, 42-32. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america photographs — Alex Driehaus

Lebanon head coach Jeff Sowa reacts to a disappointing play during a game against Hanover at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. Hanover won, 42-32. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Lebanon head coach Jeff Sowa reacts to a disappointing play during a game against Hanover at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. Hanover won, 42-32. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 12-13-2023 4:46 AM

LEBANON — The latest edition of the Sydney McLaughlin Show debuted on Monday night in Lang Metcalf Gym, and it was a hit for the Hanover High girls basketball team.

The Bears outlasted Lebanon, 42-32, during the NHIAA Division II teams’ season opener. McLaughlin, a senior guard, poured in 32 points, 15 of which were delivered from behind the 3-point arc.

The Raiders, in the early stages of adjusting to a new coach and new tactics, couldn’t stop McLaughlin from successfully driving the lane. When the hosts packed the paint, they watched helplessly as Hanover’s No. 20 dropped in a quintet of 3-pointers, several from NBA range.

McLaughlin, the daughter of Dartmouth College men’s basketball coach David McLaughlin, has committed to play next season at Stonehill College, a school of 2,500 in southeastern Massachusetts with a newly minted NCAA Division I women’s basketball program.

Given that high school hoops season is only about 10 days old and the neighboring rivalry involved, Monday’s frenetic, physical style made sense. Turnovers, errant passes, ill-advised shots and numerous fouls made for a low-scoring slog.

“It was opening night, and we have two new starters,” said 24th-year Hanover coach Dan O’Rourke. “It’s a lively atmosphere and … these two teams tend to play each other closely.”

Hanover didn’t have another player with more than two points, and O’Rourke knows that with McLaughlin sure to be swarmed, the scoring diversity he believes the Bears possess must surface most nights. Hanover was 15-5 and fell in the playoff quarterfinals last winter.

“It’s going to be a team effort, especially if we’re in foul trouble like tonight,” O’Rourke said. “We need a bench, and we need basketball by committee.”

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Lebanon, which staggered to a 3-15 record under second-year coach Chris Boucher last winter, looked more intense than it did during many games last season. Morale bottomed out late in that campaign, and Jeff Sowa, 32, was hired to try and add to the program’s proud tradition.

“We can clean up our organization, but I love that we didn’t get outworked tonight — that was our goal,” said Sowa, who has assistant experience with Lebanon’s boys and girls programs. “Regardless of the scoreboard, I think that was a huge win for us.”

Sowa, a Lebanon Middle School health teacher, wants his team to play faster.

The Raiders did a good job getting back quickly against Hanover but killed many of their offensive possessions with turnovers, poor shot selection and ineffective rebounding.

“Offensively, we’ve really been pushing the idea of getting out wide and starting the break off the rebound, so we can push the ball,” Sowa said. “We want to take it to the next level so we can get up more shots.”

Post player Drew Kantor led Lebanon with 11 points, and guards Izzy Hamilton and Summer Crowell each contributed eight points. The Raiders visit Pembroke on Friday, while Hanover hosts Merrimack Valley the same evening.

Notes: Lebanon played without senior Maddie Jewell, a forward who’s rejoined the program after choosing not to play last winter. The senior said she is recovering from an injury suffered in a car accident last month. … Referees Pete DePalo and Blake Colter whistled 36 fouls. New to high school basketball this winter is a rule in which a team’s fifth foul during a quarter puts its foe into the bonus and all fouls the rest of the period result in two free-throw attempts. Teams’ fouls reset after each quarter. … Bella Hunt, a first-year starting guard for the Bears, is the daughter of former Hanover soccer and lacrosse standout Josh Hunt, a 1989 Hanover graduate. … David McLaughlin coached the Stonehill men’s team for 10 years prior to coming to Dartmouth in 2016. He’s 48-98 overall and 26-58 in the Ivy League with the Big Green.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.