WOMEN: Hanover College’s Courtney Prater (25) averaged 14.8 points and 7.0 rebounds last season as a junior. Coach Molly Jones (background) is two wins away from 350 in her career. (Courier file photo)
WOMEN: Hanover College’s Courtney Prater (25) averaged 14.8 points and 7.0 rebounds last season as a junior. Coach Molly Jones (background) is two wins away from 350 in her career. (Courier file photo)
Big things are expected at Hanover College this winter where the men's and women's basketball programs are set to tip off their seasons this weekend.

The women, fresh off their third-straight 20-win season, have been picked to win the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference by league coaches. The men return four starters and get their first shot at a Division I opponent in a real game.

Molly Jones' women's basketball team begins the season at home tonight when they host Adrian (Mich.) in the Tip-Off Tournament at Collier Arena. The Panthers will then play Wittenberg (Ohio) at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Hanover's men will open the season a few hours later on Saturday when they host Oberlin (Ohio) at Collier Arena at 5 p.m. The men will then host Denison (Ohio) on Sunday at 3 p.m.

The Hanover women reached the NCAA Tournament two years ago, just the second trip in the program's history. Despite a stellar 21-5 record last year in which four of the losses were to NCAA tournament teams, the Panthers missed out on an at-large bid.

Hanover will try to rectify that this year. Led by conference player of the year candidates Courtney Prater and Alicia Hopkins, the Panthers received four first-place votes by the league coaches to edge defending champion Franklin by two points.

Prater will be the key to the Panthers' success. The 5-foot-9 senior from Anderson averaged 14.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game last season after transferring from Anderson University. She shot 48.6 percent from the floor and was a 66 percent free-throw shooter.

But Hanover is not a one-woman team. Hopkins, the lightning quick 5-foot-6 sophomore guard from Columbus East High School, burst on the scene last year to average 9.3 points and 2.3 assists per game. She shot 37 percent from 3-point range and 45 percent from the floor overall.

Katie Gahimer, a 5-foot-10 senior from North Decatur High School, emerged as one of the team's top subs last year and averaged 6.9 points per game. She is expected to slide into the starting lineup this year.

Another senior, 5-foot-7 guard Natalie Morse from Mitchell, has fought injuries in her three seasons in Hanover but when healthy has been one of the team's top players.

The Panthers will have one player with local ties, former Southwestern star Kelsey Jones. The sophomore Jones, the daughter of head coach Molly Jones and assistant coach John Jones, is in her first season.

Molly Jones enters the season just two wins shy of the 350-win milestone. She could reach that mark this weekend at home.

Hanover's men have been picked to finish third in the HCAC but with a veteran roster teh Panthers could compete for the league title.

The Panthers went 16-9 in coach Jon Miller's third season with his alma mater and lost only one senior off that team, all-conference performer Mike Case.

Attempting to step into Case's considerable shoes will be a bevy of players who saw significant minutes last season. Not the least of which is Ryan Nowicki, a 6-foot-1 senior guard from Westfield, who was second on the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game.

Fellow seniors Drake Hendricks, from Muncie, and Brian Gunter, from Louisville, will also play big parts in the team's success while sophomore guards Tim Bass and Kyle James, both from Indianapolis, are positioned to turn in strong campaigns.

The Panthers have six freshmen listed on their roster, four of whom stand either 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6.

Michael Kring, a 5-foot-10 sophomore from Shawe Memorial, is the only local player on the Hanover roster. Kring appeared in 18 games and averaged 2.0 points per game for the Panthers last season.

The highlight of Hanover's season will come just after Christmas when the Panthers travel to Hinkle Fieldhouse to take on Butler University - the NCAA Division I national runner-up in both 2010 and 2011 - in a regular season contest on Nov. 27. Hanover played Butler in an exhibition game two years ago but this game will count in the standings.

Two days before the Butler game Hanover will host Centre College in its annual Collier Classic game on Nov. 25. The game honors former coach John Collier, who is expected to once again attend.

HANOVER MEN'S BASKETBALL

Head Coach: Jon Miller (4th year, 50-27; 117-90 overall)

2011-12 Record: 16-9, 12-6 HCAC)

Tournament Run: HCAC - lost to Rose-Hulman 59-56.

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP

Pos./No./Name-Cl.-Ht.-PPG-Hometown (H.S.)

G-10-Tim Bass-So.-5-5-6.6-Indianapolis (North Central)

G-14-Ryan Nowicki-Sr.-6-1-12.5-Westfield (Guerin Catholic)

G-22-Kyle James-So.-6-0-4.3-Indianapolis (Franklin Central)

F-12-Drake Hendricks-Sr.-6-1-7.0-Muncie (Wapahani)

F-35-Jacob Rieger-Jr.-6-4-3.5-Cold Spring, Ky. (Bishop Brossart)

BENCH

G-11-Michael Kring-So.-5-10-2.0-Madison (Shawe)

G-15-Ethan Black-Fr.-5-11-N/A-Evansville (Day)

F-31-Alex Hanke-Fr.-6-5-N/A-Evansville (Day)

G-32-Matt Wehner-Fr.-6-2-N/A-Pendleton (Heights)

F-33-Jacob Steinhart-So.-6-5-1.6-Mount Vernon (H.S.)

F-40-Evan Bingham-Fr.-6-6-N/A-Louisville (DeSales)

F-42-Michael Van Kleunen-Fr.-6-6-N/A-Mason, Ohio (H.S.)

F-45-Brian Gunter-Sr.-6-5-6.2-Louisville, Ky. (St. Xavier)

F-52-Quincy Robinson-Fr.-6-5-N/A-Nashville (Brown Co.)

C-54-Desmond Marks-So.-6-5-3.7-Bloomington (South)

Assistant Coaches: Scott Cutter, Eric Richardson, Jim Faehr

Hanover Men's 2012-13 Schedule

(Home games in CAPS)

Nov. 17-OBERLIN-5 p.m.

Nov. 18-DENISON-3 p.m.

Nov. 25-CENTRE - Collier Classic-3 p.m.

Nov. 27-at Butler-7 p.m.

Dec. 1-MANCHESTER*-3 p.m.

Dec. 5-FRANKLIN*-7:30 p.m.

Dec. 8-at Defiance*-3 p.m.

Dec. 15-at Rose-Hulman*-3 p.m.

Dec. 17-at Wabash-7:30 p.m.

Dec. 28-29-Wittenberg Tourn.-TBA

Jan. 2-at Mt. St. Joseph*-7:30 p.m.

Jan. 5-BLUFFTON*-4 p.m.

Jan. 9-TRANSYLVANIA*-7:30 p.m.

Jan. 12-EARLHAM*-1 p.m.

Jan. 16-at Anderson*-7:30 p.m.

Jan. 19-DEFIANCE*-3 p.m.

Jan. 23-MT. ST. JOSEPH*-7:30 p.m.

Jan. 26-at Manchester*-3 p.m.

Jan. 30-at Franklin*-7:30 p.m.

Feb. 2-at Earlham*-3 p.m.

Feb. 6-ANDERSON*-7:30 p.m.

Feb. 9-at Bluffton*-3 p.m.

Feb. 13-at Transylvania*-7:30 p.m.

Feb. 16-ROSE-HULMAN*-3 p.m.

Feb. 22-24 HCAC Tourn.-TBA

*-HCAC Games




HANOVER WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Head Coach: Molly Jones (15th year, 214-148; 348-269 overall)

2011-12 Record: 21-5, 16-2 HCAC

Tournament Run: HCAC - beat Rose-Hulman 85-47; lost to Franklin 64-44.

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP

Pos./No./Name-Cl.-Ht.-PPG-Hometown (H.S.)

G-24-Alicia Hopkins-So.-5-6-9.3-Columbus (East)

G-15-Natalie Morse-Sr.-5-7-6.4-Mitchell (H.S.)

F-31-Caitlin Bischoff-So.-5-10-6.4-Atlanta (Hamilton Heights)

F-21-Katie Gahimer-Sr.-5-10-6.9-Greensburg (North Decatur)

C-25-Courtney Prater-Sr.-5-9-14.8-Anderson (Lapel)

BENCH

G-4-Ashley Malloy-Fr.-5-2-N/A-Salem (H.S.)

G-10-Kelsey Jones So.-5-6-N/A--Hanover (Southwestern)

G-11-Megan Caudill-So.-5-7-2.6-Richmond (H.S.)

G-12-Katie Brewer-Sr.-5-6-5.6-Jamestown (Western Boone)

F-14-Elyse Weddle-Jr.-5-10-5.5-Bloomfield (H.S.)

F-22-Liz DeMoss-Fr.-5-9--Bloomington (North)

G-23-Jade Tubb-Fr.-5-6-N/A-Louisville, Ky. (Sacred Heart)

G-30-Shauna Watson-So.-5-6-1.6-Fort Wayne (Concordia)

G-32-Alexis Taylor-Fr.-5-4-N/A-Frankfort (H.S.)

G-34-Stephanie Pahren-Fr.-5-6-N/A-Metamora (Franklin Co.)

G-42-Ashlee Dilley-Fr.-5-3-N/A-Pittsfield, Ill. (H.S.)

Assistant Coaches: John Jones, Micah Whitted

Hanover Women's 2012-13 Schedule

(Home games in CAPS)

Nov. 16-ADRIAN-6 p.m.

Nov. 17-WITTENBERG-1 p.m.

Nov. 27-at Centre-7 p.m.

Dec. 1-MANCHESTER*-5 p.m.

Dec. 5-at Franklin*-7:30 p.m.

Dec. 8-at Defiance*-1 p.m.

Dec. 15-at Rose-Hulman-1 p.m.

Dec. 18-at Laverne-10:30 p.m.

Dec. 19-at Redlands-10 p.m.

Dec. 28-29 Huntingdon Tourn.-TBA

Jan. 2-MT. ST. JOSEPH*-7:30 p.m.

Jan. 5-BLUFFTON*-2 p.m.

Jan. 9-at Transylvania*-7:30 p.m.

Jan. 12-EARLHAM*-3 p.m.

Jan. 16-ANDERSON*-7:30 p.m.

Jan. 19-DEFIANCE*-1 p.m.

Jan. 23-at Mt. St. Joseph *-7:30 p.m.

Jan. 26-at Mancester*-1 p.m.

Jan. 30-FRANKLIN*-7:30 p.m.

Feb. 2-at Earlham*-1 p.m.

Feb. 6-at Anderson*-7:30 p.m.

Feb. 9-at Bluffton*-1 p.m.

Feb. 13-TRANSYLVANIA*-7:30 p.m.

Feb. 16-ROSE-HULMAN*-1 p.m.

Feb. 22-24-HCAC Tourn.-TBA

*-HCAC Games