The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The sameness for the Hiland Lady Hawks during their tournament run is that essentially their games have been over after the first quarter buzzer. That concept did not change in their Div. IV District Semifinal game against Fort Frye at Meadowbrook High School Wednesday, March 1.
The Lady Hawks bolted to a 23-6 lead through the game’s first eight minutes, took a colossal 49-10 halftime advantage into the locker room and romped to an 85-26 win that emulated the first two games of their tournament run. “We shot it well and took good care of the basketball,” said Hiland coach Dave Schlabach, who ran his career tournament record to 120-21 overall with the win. “I thought we moved the ball very well to find open looks, and if we continue sharing the ball like that to get quality shots we should be in good shape.”
Hiland was in good shape from the get-go, as the Lady Hawks ran away from Fort Frye on the back of Kennedy Schlabach’s early success and a barrage of points from a well-balanced attack on offense. Playing the game with six players, with their starting point guard out due to injury, Fort Frye was grossly out-manned by the deep Lady Hawks group.
Throughout the first three games in the tournament Coach Schlabach has had an opportunity to stretch his bench to see if any of the younger role players are going to be able to help the team as the tournament trail now gets exponentially tougher. He said he has gotten great play off the bench from junior sharpshooter Sara Keim and from senior post player Melissa Hostetler. However, he has seen enough in Isabelle Fowler, Kimberly Miller and Krista Troyer during that span that he feels comfortable turning to them as the tournament progresses.
“Mel hyper-extended her knee a little bit, and we kept her out just for precautionary reasons, but I think she will be fine,” Schlabach said. “Sara is playing the best basketball she has ever played for us right now and her minutes continue to increase. But we have gotten an opportunity to see some other kids, and I know I can turn to Izzy and she can go in and face guard a top player. I feel comfortable that Krista can go in for a couple of minutes and handle the pressure of taking care of the ball and Kim can come in and light it up from outside. All three are specialists who may be needed at some point as we progress.”
That progression will take a turn for the tougher as the Lady Hawks prepare to square off with Inter-Valley Conference foe Malvern. The Hornets have played Hiland as tough as any local team has, and Schlabach said they are preparing for a battle as they focus on stopping Malvern’s marquee post player Kelsi Hulit, who poured in 33-points in their District Semifinal win, and point guard Hunter Martin and the rest of the Hornets team.
“We are expecting a great game,” Schlabach said of the Hornets. From here on out, everyone is going to provide a quality challenge. Malvern is a very talented team and the two teams we could face at Regionals, Cornerstone and Lake Ridge Academy, are as good as any team in Div. III. We know it gets a lot harder from here out.”
Schlabach paced the Lady Hawks with 22 points on the strength of five 3-pointers, while Keim added four triples for her 12 points. Morgan McMillen and Angela Troyer both notched 11 points for Hiland, while Tiffany Weaver added seven, Jessica Troyer scored six, Madison Yoder added five, Hostetler notched four and Miller added three. Angela Troyer’s eight boards led Hiland to a 38-25 rebounding edge, while Jessica Troyer doled out seven assists as Hiland collected whopping 25 dimes on the night.
Hiland and Malvern square off Saturday, March 4 at Dover High School in the District Final.