Hiland Boys Basketball

Another win propels Hawks to sectional crown

Colton Sommers and the Hawks move on to districts

Two games into the tournament trail, the Hiland Hawks have two wins, which keeps them moving along the tournament trail, but they have not been challenged in either contest, something that is a bit of a concern during a time when teams want to be tested to stay mentally focused. After blowing out Newcomerstown in its East Div. IV tourney opener, the Hawks faced Shadyside (7-17) in the sectional title game and came away a 69-43 victor.

Much like the win over the Trojans, this one had no rhythm, no flow, and with a tiny crowd, no lively atmosphere. That will most certainly change in district play when the Hawks face a talented Malvern team in the district semifinal game, but this game was one Hiland simply had to get through to reach the next level of play.

“It was a little bit of a weird one. We weren’t super sharp,” Hiland head coach Mark Schlabach said. “But we did what we needed to do to win, and that is all that matters at this time of the year.”

Hiland never trailed in the game, and the final outcome was pretty much established when the Hawks extended a 7-4 lead into an 18-4 bulge by ending the first quarter on an 11-0 spree.

The run started with a Sam Habeger score inside. John Sisson drilled a 3-pointer at the top of the key, Jared Raber scored inside, Habeger followed suit and Kendall Hochstetler received a perfect pass from Andy Miller and laid it in for an 18-4 lead.

When Scott Troyer canned a trey to start the second period, the only things left to determine was the final score and the margin of victory.

Damien Kandel scored a pair of buckets inside, and after the Tigers trimmed the deficit to 27-14, Kobe Troyer and Hochstetler both rained down three-balls to push the Hiland lead back to 33-14. Shadyside again cut into the lead, but as time wound down at the half, Miller made a sensational defensive stop near mid-court, stole the ball and from his knees flipped it to Kobe Troyer, who quickly rifled off a long 3-pointer that found nothing but net for a 36-19 advantage for the Hawks.

In a game like this, the first few moments of the second half can often dictate which way the game goes, whether it turns into a blow-out or gets close.

Hiland burst out of the locker room on fire with Kobe Troyer and Scott Troyer both hitting threes and Miller assisting Kobe Troyer for a lay-in to make it 44-19.

While Shadyside continued to play hard, it was an uphill battle. The Hawks led 46-23 when Kandel fed Hochstetler, who quickly flicked the ball back to Kandel in the paint for a gorgeous score. Kobe Troyer hit a triple, and Scott Troyer banged home two treys to make it 55-23. Hiland took a 56-31 lead into the fourth period, and a Hochstetler steal and score, a Scott Troyer drive, and a Miller 3-pointer extended the lead to 63-38.

With the game not even mid-way through the fourth quarter, Schlabach started to unload his bench. Korrie Hostetler and Kyle Miller finished off the scoring, and the Hawks had captured another sectional crown, its 10th in a row and 20th in the past 21 years.

Schlabach said he didn’t feel that his team shot the ball particularly well all night, yet he was shocked when he dug into the final numbers.

“I looked down and here, we made 11 threes,” Schlabach said. “It didn’t feel like we shot the ball all that well, but we hit 11 threes. It felt like it could have been a whole lot more.”

Defensively Hiland didn’t seem to have quite the same edge it has displayed pretty much all season long. Schlabach said part of that was due to the way Shadyside runs its offense.

“Give Shadyside some of that credit because they play a different style of ball than what we see around here,” Schlabach said. “Every time we have played them, we have struggled to guard them. It’s hard to simulate their motion offense. They played hard, and they made some tough shots.”

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