· Basketball - Holmes County ·

Hawks able to grind out a 47-41 win over Pirates to cash in on IVC South title

Hawks edge Pirates in a massive battle on The Hill

After Hiland thumped Garaway by 18 earlier this season, it was almost a given that the Pirates would come out bent on revenge in round two of this fantastic Inter-Valley Conference boys basketball matchup.

With the IVC South title on the line and the Hawks nursing a one-game lead over the Pirates, it also was a safe bet that Hiland was not going to cough up their lead without a fight.

Therefore it was to nobody’s surprise that these two IVC juggernauts went toe to toe to the bitter end, an end which saw the Hawks make a couple of key plays late that led to a 47-41 victory.

“We haven’t been in a fourth quarter where it has been a one-possession game all year, and we are really happy to have a game like that tonight and experience that pressure moment at the end of the game,” Hiland head coach Mark Schlabach said.

“We’ve been in a lot of close games this year, and for the most part we have done some really good things,” Garaway head coach Terry Rowe said. “We knew this was going to be a battle tonight.”

After a slow start Hiland senior Kendall Hochstetler heated up in a big way, nailing a trio of 3-pointers around one from Garaway’s Brevan Raber. However, Austin Fearon squirted through the paint for an and-one to end the first period with Hiland up just 10-9.

Ethan Roden gave the Pirates a short-lived 12-10 lead on another and-one, but Hiland responded on Hochstetler’s drive and three points from Sam Habeger. Fearon drove for two, but again the Hawks ran off a small run, getting four points apiece from Andy Miller and Habeger for a 23-14 lead. More importantly Roden suffered his third foul and found a place on the bench. So too did both Erik Miller and Troyer at various times, and that hampered Garaway’s ability to generate much offense.

“The foul issues hurt us,” Rowe said. “Fortunately we had some bench guys come in and play really well.”

Garaway got a much-needed boost late in the half when Austin Miller made a nice play inside, and Braden Yoder came up with a large-type steal late and raced down court to beat the buzzer to send the teams into the locker room with the Pirates down just five.

The teams hammered away at each other late in the third period with Erik Miller hitting a triple to draw the Pirates to within 31-25, only to be answered with one from Hiland’s Kody Miller to put the Hawks back up by nine. Austin Miller scored again inside, but Hiland completed a wonderfully executed possession to end the quarter on Hunter Sommers’ foul-line jumper and a 36-27 lead.

The Hawks then built the only double-digit lead of the game to start the fourth quarter when Habeger scored inside, and Garaway was on the verge of letting this one get away. Instead they responded in a terrific way.

“When we got up 11, I think this year we have been able to extend those leads, and Garaway really fought hard to get back in the game, and we needed that,” Schlabach said. “I give Garaway credit.”

Roden muscled his way inside for two, Erik Miller tossed in a lengthy 3-pointer and Roden scored again in the paint as Garaway’s defense stepped up with four consecutive stops.

“We faced a breaking point that we really haven’t faced,” Rowe said. “We kept ourselves within striking distance despite the foul trouble and made that run in the third quarter when we gathered ourselves and fought back.”

When Corey Troyer penetrated and was fouled and hit two free throws, Garaway was back to within two, and the gymnasium was rocking with enthusiastic Pirate screams.

Hochstetler may have been hot early, but Schlabach said he hit none bigger than the 14-foot jumper he nailed with 2:15 left to play with the Hawks clinging to a two-point lead.

“That was probably the biggest shot of the game for us,” Schlabach said.

“They got that offensive rebound, and that ended up bringing a big possession,” Rowe said of the trip down the floor that resulted in Hochstetler’s jumper. “It would have been nice to get the ball there down two and see what we could have done.”

Erik Miller then had a runner along the baseline rattle in and out, and Hunter Sommers went to the other end and hit two free throws for a 42-36 Hawks’ lead. With 93 seconds left, Roden hit two free throws to give Garaway hope. Habeger split two free throws before Hiland’s Jared Raber stepped into the passing lane with 44 seconds left and picked off a pass, setting up Andy Miller’s two free throws with 37 ticks left that gave the Hawks a 45-38 edge.

“We trust that Jared is always going to make the right play at the end of the game,” Schlabach said.

Erik Miller’s long trey with six seconds left simply didn’t allow the Pirates enough time, and Kody Miller sealed it with two free throws to give Hiland its final advantage.

“That’s something we will learn from,” Schlabach said. “The emotions of that game and the pressure at the end just got to us because we haven’t been in that situation much this year.”

Rowe said that despite a fantastic effort from his team, one glaring statistic may have doomed his team.

“At times we played well, but we didn’t shoot the ball the way we needed to,” Rowe said. “We had too many open looks that didn’t drop, and against a team like this, when you get that open shot, you have to make it, and we didn’t do enough of that.”

“Garaway did a good job of taking away our shooters,” Schlabach said. “Even the ones Kendall made were highly contested, and some of our other shooters didn’t sniff a shot all night.”

Erik Miller and Roden both scored 11 points while Fearon added eight and Austin Miller pitched in with four for Garaway. Hiland was led by Hochstetler’s 17 points and Habeger’s 11. Andy Miller added eight, Sommers tallied six and Kody Miller chipped in with five.

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