Say one thing for the dream matchup of two of the best teams in the Inter-Valley Conference South Division: Both were very curious to see exactly where they stacked up.
Basketball fans in the gymnasium at Indian Valley High School simply wanted to see a great game.
In the end everyone in the house got exactly what they wanted in terms of excitement, and it would be the Braves who would leave experiencing the thrill of victory as they hung on to capture a 42-37 victory.
This game featured plenty of lead changes, and neither team led by more than the final score of five points, so to say it was a close contest is putting it mildly, and Hiland had chances to tie the score with under one minute to play on a couple of occasions.
The two teams played evenly in so many aspects, both playing staunch defense as a mainstay on the night, but the teams varied in two key categories.
The first was shooting, where Indian Valley took advantage of anything but some home cooking. The Braves were ice cold for much of the game, ending the night making 16-of-44 action shots. However, Indian Valley was extremely active on the offensive glass as they gathered up 17 offensive rebounds that led to many of their points. It also paved the way to an impressive 36-22 edge on the glass for the Braves as the Hawks struggled to grab boards.
The two teams traded blows throughout the first quarter that led to a 12-12 tie through the game’s first eight minutes. Ryan Berger gave the Braves a lead with the team’s ninth offensive rebound to begin the second period, but Andy Miller responded with a 3-pointer to give the Hawks a momentary edge. Sam Habeger would give Hiland the lead back at 17-16, but Tanner Myers would help the Braves regain the lead and stretch it to 20-17 before Damien Kandel split two free throws to end the half with Indian Valley up 20-18.
Indian Valley would extend the lead to five on a pair of Connor McGuire free throws, but a three-ball from Kobe Troyer and a drive by Scott Troyer tied things up at 24.
Back and forth the two top IVC South teams went until Kobe Troyer put the Hawks up 30-29 with a put-back of his own. After Cade Williams scored for the Braves, Kandel scored inside to give Hiland its last lead at 32-31. Karson Hartrick would drive for a score to end the third period with Indian Valley up by one.
Scoring then got very tough to come by as both teams battened down the hatches on defense. Late in the final period Indian Valley pushed the lead to four at 38-34, but Scott Troyer canned a huge trey to trim the deficit to one at 38-37 with 1:31 left. Indian Valley got a huge score from Williams, and down three with time winding down, Hiland went for the tie with 27 seconds to play, but Kendall Hochstetler’s shot was off the mark. However, Indian Valley’s shooting woes had oozed to the free throw line. Braden Rostad split a pair of free throws, and Williams missed twice, giving Hiland hope. However, Hiland misfired on one trip, and on the other Kobe Troyer committed a charging foul. Williams then split a pair of free throws late to seal the deal.
The Hawks were paced by Kobe Troyer, who scored 13 points including three 3-pointers. Scott Troyer added nine while Andy Miller scored eight points and added three steals. Habager added four, and Kandel scored three.
The Braves got a rugged 16-point, 11-rebound night from Williams,while Hartrick added 12 points, McGuire scored seven, Berger added four and Rostad hauled in 11 rebounds, nine of them on defense.
The Hawks fell to 6-4 overall on the year in suffering their first defeat in league play while the Braves remained spotless on the year at 9-0 and in league play at 6-0.