But there are no moral victories when a Dave Schlabach team scores 59 points and loses.
Nor are there any victories when a team loses the rebounding battle 40-22, 15 of those 40 Wooster rebounds coming on the offensive glass, which led to a number of easy stick-back buckets.
However, with a team consisting of a host of height-challenged players, Hiland coach Dave Schlabach knew that games like this would be more than possible this year.
“It was a disappointing effort,” said Schlabach, who said that the effort on the glass didn’t even allow an opportunity to appreciate what Hochstetler did in the fourth quarter.
“Wooster was just athletic and beat us to the ball all night. They were more motivated, and they wanted it more. If we don’t rebound any better than that, we are not going to beat a good team.”
The other factor in the loss was that Hiland simply couldn’t contend with Wooster’s Claire Ballard. Ballard hit 14-of-21 action shots for her 28 points, and seemed to get behind the Hiland press all night long for easy lay-ups.
“We knew she could score, but we didn’t realize how smart she was,” said Schlabach of Ballard. “She’s sneaky, savvy, and she made all the right cuts at the right time to get herself plenty of wide open lay-ups.”
Aside from her lone free throw, none of Ballard’s points came from outside of two feet, meaning that she had plenty of point-blank opportunities.
The game between two of the area’s top teams looked like it might be all Wooster, when the Lady Generals raced out to an 8-2 lead mid way through the first quarter, with Sarah Cairnie scoring four of her 14 points during that stretch.
After Cairnie hit again to make it 12-4, Emily Yoder hit a pair of free throws and Hochstetler nailed the first of three 3-pointers to draw Hiland to within 12-9 after one.
But already, the rebounding trend had reared its ugly head, Wooster holding a commanding 13-2 edge on the boards.
Three times early in the second Hiland crept to within one point, getting to within 16-15 on a drive by Kendra Schlabach.
While Hiland couldn’t grab a rebound, the one thing they could do was force Wooster into a ton of turnovers. Wooster committed its 11th miscue of the game early in the second quarter, and Hiland took advantage, grabbing the lead on Lindsey Yoder’s steal and lay-up.
Ballard quickly responded, scoring twice inside to give Wooster the lead back 20-17, and it would be a lead the Lady Generals would never relinquish.
Sydney Logee scored inside to make it 25-19, and Jasmine Goings hit a pair of free throws late to make it 25-21 at the half.
But an ugly third quarter saw Hiland fall behind by 41-29 as Ballard, who came in averaging 17.5 points per game, began having her way.
Ballard scored 11 points in the quarter, and helped push the lead out to 41-29, leaving Hiland reeling.
The Lady Hawks answer came in the form of Kendra Schlabach, who knocked down three treys late in the quarter to keep the game fairly close at 47-38 after three.
Then Hochstetler simply took over for Hiland, scoring as many points as did Wooster in the fourth quarter.
“What Gina did tonight was mix up her game,” said Schlabach. “She’s pretty tough when she does that.”
Unfortunately, Hiland managed only three points from other sources, and could never get closer than 56-53 when Hochstetler hit a trey.
But as she had done all night, Ballard got loose inside, scored, Logee hit a pair of free throws, and the Lady Generals were able to fend off their biggest challenge of the season.
Ballard led all scorers on the night with 29 points, and added five rebounds and a whopping eight steals to her career night. Cairnie added 14 points and nine rebounds, with Logee contributing seven points and a game-high 12 boards.
Aside from Hochstetler’s 28-point, six rebound effort, both team-highs, Schlabach added 15 points, while Goings added six points.
While Wooster has now won six straight to begin the year, the loss marks the 10th consecutive regular loss out of the Inter-Valley Conference for Hiland.