Prater leads Hanover into title match

Hanover College’s women’s basketball team defeated Franklin College, 65-57, to move into the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship game. The semifinal contest was held Saturday, Feb. 23, in Lexington, Ky.

Senior forward Courtney Prater (Anderson, Ind.) scored 26 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead Hanover, which improved to 20-7 overall on the season.

Seniors Katie Gahimer (St. Paul, Ind.) and Natalie Morse (Mitchell, Ind.), along with sophomore Alicia Hopkins (Columbus, Ind.), each added 11 points for the Panthers.

Katie Dale scored 16 points to lead Franklin. Krista Schoot added 11 points and 10 boards for the Grizzlies (21-5).

Hanover, which reached 20 victories for the fourth consecutive season, will meet host Transylvania University (Ky.) in the championship game. The contest will begin at 2 p.m.

The winner earns the Heartland Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA III national tournament.

Hanover trailed 21-9 midway through the first period and battled to within 34-29 at the intermission.

The Panthers, with four points from Prater, outscored Franklin 8-2 to grab a 37-36 lead five minutes into the second half.

Hanover stretched the margin to 11 points (52-41) with 10:11 to play and held a 57-46 advantage with 7:13 on the clock.

The Grizzlies trimmed the margin to 61-54 with two minutes remaining, but Prater hit two free throws with 41 seconds left and Hopkins added a pair from the charity stripe with 14 seconds to go to fend off the late challenge.

The victory earns Hanover’s fifth consecutive appearance in the HCAC title game. The Panthers are 3-2 in league finals, including an 82-71 win against Transylvania in 2011.

Hanover vs. Franklin statistics