CINCINNATI, Ohio - Everything in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference was still up for grabs going into Wednesday nights action. Hanover came into the Harrington Center a game up on Transy and Rose-Hulman for first place. Both of those teams were looking to The Mount to take down the Panthers and open the door for them to secure a conference championship. Thats exactly what the Lions did, they took down the Panthers 70-69 behind a huge second-half effort by freshman Brady Thomas (Grove City, Ohio/Bishop Ready). Thomas scored all of his game-high 23 points in the second half to help the Lions secure the win.
The Lions struggled offensively in the first half scoring only 23 points on 9-of-25 shooting from the field. Jake Cropper (Georgetown, Ohio/Georgetown) and Devin Young (Crestwood, Ky./South Oldham) kept the Lions afloat in the first half. Cropper led the team with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and a 2-for-2 effort from deep. Young added seven points on 3-of-7 field goals and 1-for-3 from three point land.
As the second half opened the Lions trailed by 13, and seemed to be headed toward another tough loss. The opened the second half on fire though, Young and Thomas combined to make the first four baskets of the second half without a miss. Hanover kept pace though maintaining a double-digit lead through the early going. The Lions finally got the lead with under 10 for good with 13:05 on the clock as Thomas curled off a ball screen and buried a three. It was the start of a 18-0 run for the Lions, which saw them go from down 12 to up 6. Thomas scored 10 on the run, Tanner Clos (Alexandria, Ky./Campbell County) and Shaun Sullivan (Louisville, Ky./DeSales) also each drilled a three.
The Lions would not trail again the rest of the way. The Panthers did make a late charge and where helped by some missed free-throws by the Lions. Hanover had an opportunity to win the game at the buzzer, but a Cam Fails layup was not to be. The Lions did an outstanding job on one of the HCAC's Player of the Year candidates in the game. Fails who came into the game leading the HCAC in scoring at 21.1 PPG, was held to just 6 points. As his final layup fell short the Lions secured a much needed 70-69 victory.
The Lions will play host to the Quakers of Earlham College on Saturday for the final game of the 2018-19 season. The Lions will say goodbye to seniors Jake Cropper, Mitch Moorhead (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder), Liam Rabe (Lakeside Park, Ky./Dixie Heights) and Shaun Sullivan prior to the 3:00 PM tip-off.