MANNHEIM, Germany — Hanau point guard Dave Hendrix, a thorn in Mannheim’s side all game long, wielded the dagger Saturday as his Panthers turned back the Bison 51-39 to win the European Division II basketball championship.

With Mannheim on a third-quarter run that had a vocal home crowd roaring as the Bison cut their 24-13 halftime deficit to a 30-25 gap, Hendrix swished a three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to silence the crowd and the run.

“We kind of underestimated them because we had beaten them during the season,” said Hendrix, who scored 14 points.

Hendrix’s trey got the process started, and tournament MVP Marcus Fontanez took over in the paint to finish the job. Fontanez collected six of his game-high 12 rebounds in the final eight minutes. The result was an 18-14 turnaround the rest of the way for Hanau and a European title.

“When they started catching up, we just had to slow it down,” said Fontanez, who scored 16 points. “We just had to run our offense.”

Hanau’s other inside factor, hard-nosed forward Chris Kramer, fouled out with 1:07 to play after collecting eight rebounds in 30 minutes or so of banging up against Mannheim big men Earl Lee and Reggie Jenkins.

Scoring was particularly tough for Mannheim, which found Hanau bodies glued to them throughout. Leading the way in that department was Hendrix.

“Hendrix had no fouls,” Hanau assistant Jim Shulson said, “and still played a heck of a defensive game. He led our team.”

The breathing space Hanau enjoyed most of the time Saturday was a far cry from the Panthers’ tight semifinal victory Friday night against Patch. Two Malcolm Lane steals in overtime led to a pair of layups, one by Lane and the other by Robert Scott, that produced a 59-57 victory.

Now the Panthers will have all the time in the world to enjoy their new title.

“We’ve been working for this all year,” Hendrix said. “People kept underestimating us, but we couldn’t say anything about it. We just had to prove ourselves on the floor.”

And now?

“It feels great,” Fontanez said.

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