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Conner Mortimer of Hanover-Horton High School drives to the basket during the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 regional basketball final at Springport High School on Thursday. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports

By Jeff Steers
JTV Sports

(April 2, 2021 4:57 AM) Two similar teams with 16-1 records met in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 regional final on Thursday at Springport High School.

Hanover-Horton and Leslie high schools met in the final with a chance to advance in the MHSAA tournament.

In the end, the defense of Hanover-Horton was too much for Leslie in a 50-45 win. 

The Comets will face Ypsilanti Arbor Prep on Tuesday at Tecumseh High School in the quarterfinal matchup beginning at 7 p.m. 

Both Hanover-Horton and Leslie high school entered the contest with the same records and similar styles. 

The two teams like to get the ball up and down the court quickly, driving to the basket whenever possible.

And a handful of players from both teams played AAU basketball together for a number of years.

“It was a grind-it-out dog fight … we are just happy to get out of here,” Hanover-Horton Coach Chad Mortimer said. “Both teams are very similar.”

So similar the score was tied at 30-all at the end of the first half. Both teams ran up and down the court, driving to the basket at every opportunity.

Hanover-Horton jumped out to a 7-0 lead on baskets by Conner Mortimer and Carson Sanders. 

But Leslie fought back and trailed by only one point at 16-15 at the end of eight minutes of action. Mortimer scored seven points and Sanders scored the other nine points for the Comets. 

Hanover-Horton appeared to be pulling away following a 3-point basket by Mortimer a couple of minutes into the second quarter, but Leslie tied the score at the end of the half. 

Mortimer and Sanders accounted for 27 of the Comets’ 30 points in the first half. 

Hanover-Horton switched to a matchup zone in the second half and it affected the Leslie offense. 

“That (zone) really helped us in the second half,” Conner Mortimer said. “We went into the zone and it worked, so we stuck with it.”

It worked so well, the Blackhawks were held to four points in the third quarter. The Comets led 41-34 heading into the final eight minutes of action. 

Hanover-Horton made 5-of-7 free throws down the stretch to pull out the win. 

Mortimer finished with 22 points, six rebounds, and three assists for Hanover-Horton (17-1). Sanders scored 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the win. 

Brogan Brockie added five points and six rebounds and Evan Keeder tallied five rebounds for the Comets. 

Lucas McDaniel scored 12 points and Ayden Rutan and Tristan Feighner scored nine points apiece for Leslie (16-2). 

The Blackhawks are coached by Napoleon High School graduate Matt Johns. 

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