Rivalries like the Hiland versus Garaway one are what continue to make high school hoops so fascinating and endearing for fans.
It was clear early on in this Dec. 12 match-up of Inter-Valley Conference favorites what kind of game it was going to be. In front of a resounding crowd at Garaway High School, both the Lady Hawks of Hiland and the Lady Pirates of Garaway delivered a hard-fought, gutsy performance, but in the end it was the Lady Hawks who sank key shots at the end to get the win.
It was a battle from the onset, as neither team could pull away. The biggest lead in the first half for either team was a mere four points. The Pirates were plagued with turnovers, but good defense, and poor shooting from the Hawks kept the two teams neck and neck.
“I didn’t have a problem with the shots we were taking,” said Hiland head coach Dave Schlabach, “They were shots we were capable of making.”
After Hiland jumped out to a 6-3 lead, the Lady Pirates responded with seven straight points to go up 10-6. Regina Hochstetler then countered with a triple, and brought the Hawks back to within a point.
Then it was back and forth, neither team able to put together any type of offensive push. The half ended with the Pirates up 22-20.
With one half in the books, there was no reason to expect anything different in the second half, and it wasn’t. With the crowd starting to gain a sense of urgency, neither of the two squads would falter.
“It’s a tournament type atmosphere,” said Schlabach. “We don’t get a lot of these games early on, so it was good for us to go through it.”
The Hawks scored five straight points to start the half on a three-pointer by Junior Emily Yoder, and a two point bucket by Megan Beachy. The Lady Pirates, however, weren’t going anywhere and rattled off five straight points of their own before a pair of free throws by Beachy tied the score back up at 27. Garaway would go back up 29-27 to end the third period.
With the intensity growing, it was on to the final eight minutes, where the shots finally started to fall for the Lady Hawks.
Hochstetler connected on two more shots from behind the arc, and Yoder added two points to give the Hawks a 35-33 lead. But once again it was the Lady Pirates battling back to go up 37-35.
It wasn’t until senior Jasmine Goings put the Hawks up 40-39 on a traditional three point play, that Hiland would finally go up for good.
After a miss, Garaway was forced to foul Yoder with 33 seconds left to stop the clock. Yoder calmly stepped up and drilled both shots to go up 42-39.
However, it took less than four seconds for the Pirates to get a layup on the other end and bring them back to within one point. This time it was Kendra Schlabach’s turn to step up to the liberty stripe for the Hawks, and the ball never touched the rim as she sank both shots to put the Hawks back up by three. That proved to be enough for the Hawks who won by a final tally of 45-41.
“We feel really good and fortunate to get out of here with a win. It was a great battle,” said Schlabach, perfectly summing up the evening’s fervent pitch.
This was one of those games that could have gone either way. With a missed shot here, or a turnover there, the Lady Pirates could be the ones with the win.
But on this night, it was the Lady Hawks who would be celebrating in the locker room after just one more battle in an epic rivalry that has spanned decades. With the victory the Hawks move to 5-0 in the IVC and 5-1 overall. Garaway dropped its first game of the year, and most importantly, fell one game off the pace being set by Hiland in the Inter-Valley Conference, where the Lady Hawks currently sport a mind-boggling 17 straight seasons in which they have won or tied for the IVC crown.
The red-hot Hochstetler led all scorers in the game, netting 17 points, while Yoder added 12 and Beachy nine for the Lady Hawks. The Lady Pirates were paced by Abbie Slemmer’s 14, while Anya Misko added nine points and 11 rebounds.
While Garaway won the battle of the boards 28-21, and Hiland won the turnover contest 25-16, perhaps the most telling statistic came at the free throw line, where Hiland sank 12-of-14 shots, while Garaway struggled to nine-of-21 on the evening.