Hiland Girls Basketball

A crazy first-half run leads Lady Hawks to a stunning 76-56 win over Hoover

Krista Troyer and Brynn Mullet help Hiland soar

When Dave Schlabach scheduled North Canton Hoover on the 2018-19 high school basketball schedule for his Lady Hawks, he knew he was getting one of the finest and most highly respected programs in the state of Ohio coming to the Reese Center at Hiland High School on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

With two of Ohio’s best programs squaring off, everyone expected a fantastic match-up and a thrilling game, which was why when the Lady Hawks exploded out of the gate to a mind-boggling 33-point lead, it created an almost surreal atmosphere.

While North Canton waged a fantastic comeback bid, cutting the monstrous lead in half, it was far too big of a mountain to climb, and eventually Hiland earned a 76-56 victory.

“They are a great team, and they are going to come right at you,” Hoover head coach Abbey Allerding said of the Lady Hawks’ massive early showing. “They did that, and we were not ready to respond. You have to bring effort the whole game when you play a team like that, and we didn’t do that tonight. We can’t put ourselves in that kind of a hole against this team and expect to win.”

Hiland came storming out of the gate with a steal on the game’s first possession and immediately went into the paint, where Schlabach wanted to live on the evening.

“Our bread and butter is in the post this year,” Schlabach said. “We have to continue to find them.”

Led by sophomore point guard Morgan Yoder and bigs Zoe Miller and Kendra Shetler, Hiland built a 15-2 lead. By the time Yoder cranked home another triple, Hiland’s lead was at 20-2 through the first quarter, and there were more than a few mouths agape at what was taking place.

Kelsie Swihart then went to work in the post and from long range, hitting a three-ball that pushed Hiland’s lead to 37-9. She then scored off a nifty left-handed drive before Jordan Miller ebbed the tide momentarily for North Canton with a drive of her own. However, Yoder dropped in another rainbow triple, and Kyli Horn drove for two. The lead had grown to 44-11.

The teams traded scores before Hiland’s aggressive defense got too aggressive and started fouling Hoover. That led to the Vikings scoring the final six points of the half.

The 46-20 halftime lead was a big surprise, and even Hiland head coach Dave Schlabach was in awe of how his team used precision, speed and defense to build the lead.

“We scored 46 points against Hoover in a half,” Schlabach said. “I am very, very pleased with that. We played fast. Our post players played fast. They can run.”

Over the final three minutes of the second quarter and the first five minutes of the third quarter, North Canton reeled off 17 straight points, doing a large chunk of the damage from the charity stripe, where they hoisted up a whopping 29 free throws on the night.

“We started going down that path of fouling,” Schlabach said. “We played really fast, kept the clock running and they were really tired, and we changed the game. Then they got some moxie going.”

The first half saw Schlabach rotating the quartet of Zoe Miller, Swihart, Shetler and Alia Miller on Hoover’s standout post player All-Ohioan Allie Roshak. They remarkably held her to just four points in the first half. While Roshak ended with 15 points, that was a stellar effort in stopping a high-scoring talent.

“We were joking around before the game that we had 20 fouls to give in the post, and I think we used 17 or 18,” Schlabach said.

The Vikings came out with a renewed spirit in the second half and took it at Hiland, which seemed to get out of sorts when Yoder picked up her third foul less than one minute into the half and found the bench. Peyton Davis proved to be the spark plug, scoring four of Hoover’s 11 straight points to begin the half and coming up with a couple of big steals and assists.

Suddenly Hiland’s overpowering lead had shrunk from 33 to 15 points, forcing Schlabach to call a time-out. In addition Yoder returned to action with just over three minutes in the quarter, and the game again turned, not on her scoring, but on her ability to settle things down. On three of Hiland’s next four trips down the floor, she fed Bryn Mullet for a 3-pointer, hit Mullet on a gorgeous pass for a lay-up and found Swihart for a deep three, and just like that Hiland was back up by 20 points.

The lead would fluctuate between 17 and 23 points the rest of the way, and Hiland would rebuild its biggest lead at 72-47 midway through the final period when Alia Miller connected on consecutive spin moves in the paint.

Lena Collins would score six late points, but Hoover would never threaten after digging that deep hole early on.

“I give all the credit to Hiland,” Allerding said. “They played a great game. They are well coached, and they did a great job tonight.”

Coming off a 20-point loss to Centerville to open the season that saw them fall apart in the third quarter after trailing to the state power by just two points at the half, Schlabach was pleased overall with his team’s performance, outside of that eight-minute stretch.

“It was a much better effort,” Schlabach said. “We didn’t get any halves like that against Centerville. I thought we showed what we are capable of doing, and now we have to sustain it.”

Yoder was a beast, pouring in 21 points, going 5-of-6 from beyond the arc while doling out an impressive eight assists. Swihart and Zoe Miller each added 14 points, Aila Miller tacked on eight, Shetler knocked down six, and Mullet added five for Hiland. Defensively Yoder and Swihart both tallied four steals.

Davis led the Vikings with 18 points, Roshak ended the night with 15 points, Collins added eight and Kate Haubert had a strong game inside, scoring seven points while hauling down a game-high 14 rebounds to pace Hoover to a 34-33 edge on the glass. Both teams now stand at 1-1 on the young season.

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