WILKES-BARRE — Mickie Kaminski never missed a beat.
The Hanover Area guard wasn’t fazed, even though she just missed two free throws. She caught the ball behind the three-point stripe with her team clinging to a two-point lead, and just let it go.
Confidence in herself? Absolutely.
Nothing but net? Of course.
Kaminski knocked down two enormous fourth-quarter three-pointers from the wing and Hanover Area pulled away late for a 60-51 victory over GAR in a physical Wyoming Valley Conference contest.
“We were looking forward to this game, especially after taking a hard loss to them last year,” Kaminski said. “Honestly, we have been waiting one year for this. We wanted this win pretty bad.”
Vic Kopko knows the victory puts his Hawkeyes (4-0) in prime position in Division III. He’s also cautious enough to understand that it’s only one game.
“We are in that driver’s seat, knowing that we have won nothing yet,” the Hanover Area coach said. “But we know that this victory does put us in a good position.”
Kaminski finished with eight points, all of those dropped through the net in the final stanza.
Sure, it would have been easy for her to pass the ball off to Asdone Hooper, who had the hot-hand with a game-high 23 points.
But these are the moments she lives for. And the pressure didn’t seem to bother her one bit.
“There are always nerves because you are in an intense game like this,” Kaminski said. “I was confident in myself, but nervous at the same time. I knew that I had to take it and it had to be done at that point of the game. Sometimes, you need big shots like that to get your team going.”
Her first trifecta gave Hanover a 47-42 lead, and her second ripped nylon with four minutes left, giving her squad an eight-point edge (54-46), the largest lead of the game by any side.
“Mickie, along with some other girls on this team, do all the skunk work — all the dirty jobs that you need to do in order to come away with a victory,” Kopko said. “They do it so well. I’m so happy for Mickie because she is a terrific young lady.”
Hattie Caruso won’t deny it. Her Grenadiers were dominated on the boards.
GAR gave up 18 offensive rebounds in the first half, many of those leading to three and four shots in a possession right around the rim.
Amber Grohowski alone pulled down 19 boards for Hanover Area, which held a nearly 2-to-1 edge in rebounding.
“We definitely had some difficulty boxing out,” the GAR coach said. “We just didn’t box out well enough, and when you don’t do that, you are giving them second and third chances at making shots. That’s something that we have to work on. Right now, rebounding is one of our biggest weaknesses. We have to work on it, and stress the importance of dominating the boards.”
Despite the large gap in rebounds, allowing an average of 20 shots in each quarter and leading scorer Brea Seabrook held to just two points in the second half, GAR (2-1) still found itself in the ballgame — down two early in the fourth quarter and down 54-51 with less than three minutes left.
But Kaminski’s two threes and some key free throws by Hooper were enough to seal the victory — despite the Hawkeyes shooting just 11 of 24 from the charity stripe.
Hooper completed the double-double with 10 rebounds, while teammate Haylee Bobos also had a double-double of 16 points and 12 boards.
Breana Mosier and Seabrook each had 13 points to pace GAR, while Marie Skrepenak added 11 points and 10 boards.
Hanover Area 60, GAR 51
HANOVER AREA (60) — Asdone Hooper 8 6-7 23, Mickie Kaminski 2 2-4 8, Brittany Miller 3 0-2 8, Haylee Bobos 7 2-5 16, Amber Grohowski 3 1-6 7, Chyanne Fine 0 0-0 0, Chastity Quinones 0 0-0 0, Marissa Keegan 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 11-24 60.
GAR (51) — Breana Mosier 5 3-4 13, Majeedah Nealy 2 1-2 7, Brea Seabrook 5 3-4 13, Ayanna Warren 3 1-2 7, Marie Skrepenak 4 3-5 11, Lindsey Quinn 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 11-17 51.
Three-point goals — HAN 5 (Kaminski 2, Miller 2, Hooper); GAR 2 (Nealy 2).