No. 22 Panthers in search of HCAC regular season title this week

Blake Robertson tosses a floater up over an Earlham defender


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HANOVER, Ind. – The No. 22 Hanover men’s basketball team will debut its recent national ranking with a pair of road Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference games this week, with a chance to clinch the regular season league title.

The Panthers moved into the top 25 nationally in the Poll, late Monday evening, for the first time since the 2010-11 season, when the team was as high as No. 17 in the country.

Hanover will also be in search of its first HCAC regular season championship since 2004-05, a season that capped a five-year run as HCAC regular season champions.

The Blue and Red currently sit with a 19-3 overall record and 14-2 mark in conference play. Just one win this week will give them their first 20-win season since 2004-05, while also marking the first time since the team has participated in the HCAC that they have won 15 league games.

Finding a pair of wins will not be easy however, as HC will have to travel to Mount St. Joseph and Bluffton. The Lions defeated the Panthers inside Collier Arena earlier this season, 76-73, while HC pulled away from BU down the stretch to secure a 77-66 victory in the first meeting.

Hanover will look to rely on its consistent shooting ability, as well as strong defensive play of late to carry the load again this week. The Panthers are ranked second in NCAA Division III in field goal percentage, shooting the ball at 51.8 percent. The team is just two-tenths behind the nation’s leader, Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Defensively, since the 76 points allowed to MSJ back on Jan. 11, HC has conceded 70 or more points in just two games, as they have given up just over 63 points per game over the last nine contests.

Senior Corey Muchmore (Cincinnati, Ohio) celebrated Senior Day in a big way last Saturday, as he recorded 13 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and three steals in the 66-53 win over Earlham. Muchmore has also posted double-doubles in back-to-back games and is one of three HC players that are nationally ranked in field goal percentage, coming in at No. 7, shooting .646 from the floor.

Junior Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind.) also had an eventful past seven days, as he recorded his 1,000th career point last Wednesday, in a 92-70 home win over Franklin. McKinney was also named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team the next day and is now eligible to become an Academic All-American. The junior is averaging a team high 18.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, while shooting over 50 percent from the field.

Both junior Levi Buck (Pendleton, Ind.) and sophomore Cam Fails (Mason, Ohio) posted 20-point scoring efforts in the win over Franklin, as both made 8-of-13 shots from field. Buck totaled a career high 22 points, while Fails added 21 points.

Contact: Tyler Jester

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