Hiland Boys Basketball

Hawks and Hornets engage in a district struggle that goes Hiland’s way in the end

Scott Troyer and the Hawks grind out a tough win

Over the years the Malvern Hornets and Hiland Hawks have had their fair share of knock-down, drag-out battles as they bashed each other around in Inter-Valley Conference play.

This season, thanks to the IVC evolving into two divisions, the two did not face each other during the regular season, so when the two teams knocked heads in the Div. III East District semifinal at Dover High School on Tuesday, March 6, it took on added significance.

Everyone expected a hard-nosed game from start to finish, and the two teams did not disappoint.

In a game in which every single possession mattered, Hiland led by two points at all of the quarter-end stops in the first three quarters, and after the Hornets took a fourth-quarter lead, the Hawks dug deep and pulled out a 44-36 win that was anything but easy and far closer than the eight-point final score might suggest.

“Those are games when you just know that points are going to be tough to come by, especially with [Mark] Mayle inside,” Hiland coach Mark Schlabach said.

Malvern came storming out of the gate and smacked Hiland right in the gut with a barrage of 3-pointers. Jake Moser canned two of the four triples while Derek Hutchinson and Christian Grimm both dropped in bombs to shock the Hawks and take a 12-4 lead.





“Their kids did a great job,” Schlabach said of Hiland’s collapsing defensively on Mayle in the paint. “They were ready for that, and they responded early on.”

All of this was taking place as Mayle, Malvern’s 6-foot, 9-inch center, was forcing the Hawks to go anywhere but in the paint, where they have lived all year.

“I thought we answered the bell early,” longtime Malvern head coach Denny Tucci said. “There was no hesitation on our shots. We came out fighting.”

However, Hiland didn’t panic and played a little long ball of its own. Kobe Troyer stepped into a three-ball, John Sisson came off the bench to nail two huge triples and just like that the Hawks were up 13-12. When Damien Kandel hit an acrobatic shot inside at the buzzer that somehow eluded Mayle’s long arms, the Hawks led 15-12.

When Scott Troyer and Andy Miller connected on jumpers, the Hawks had reeled off a stunning 15-0 run, but just like Hiland, the Hornets weren’t going to fold. Mayle hit a shot inside and then dropped in a 3-pointer. Hiland’s lead was trimmed to 21-19. Kandel made two free throws before Johnny Browning drew Malvern to within two on a score inside, and the Hawks clung to a 23-21 edge at the intermission.






Malvern’s defensive effort had forced the Hawks to completely change the way they were attacking the rim, and Tucci praised his big center for that.

“That’s not great coaching. That is Mark Mayle standing in the middle and adjusting every shot,” Tucci said with a chuckle. “Unfortunately he adjusted some, and they hit the top of the backboard and went in.”

“I wish our guys would have been a little more aggressive against [Mayle] early on,” Schlabach said. “It was one of those things where we made some shots early, and it might have been kind of our undoing offensively for awhile.”

In a low-scoring third period, the two teams seemed fine with trading buckets, and the Hawks maintained their edge at 29-27 through three periods.






When Moser nailed a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, his fist pump and mighty roar ignited the Hornets crowd. Malvern finally had retaken the lead at 30-29. That lasted less than 20 seconds. Kendall Hochstetler lined up a three-ball from the top of the key and gave the Hawks the lead right back at 32-30.

“They took their lead there, and Kendall came back with an answer, and that was a really, really big shot,” Schlabach said.

A Scott Troyer jumper pushed Hiland’s lead to 34-30, but Mayle connected on an and-one to draw Malvern back to within one at 34-33.

That was when Kobe Troyer and Miller hit back-to-back shots on amazing drives, Miller’s coming with a free throw attached to it, and the Hawks had a 39-33 lead and had put a ton of pressure on the Hornets to get a score with just over four minutes to play.

Mayle split two free throws, but Hochstetler did the same on the other end, and Hiland had a 40-34 advantage. Drew Hutchinson drove for a score to trim the Hiland lead to 40-36, but the Hawks went into full stall mode with Miller and Scott Troyer doing the majority of the ball handling while Kandel served as a safety valve. Hiland ran off a ton of time before Malvern fouled Scott Troyer, who calmly drained two free throws.

Hiland got a big stop again on the other end, and after Kandel ripped down the rebound, Hiland ran more time off the clock before Hiland broke the Malvern pressure and Sisson lofted a lob over the top of the defense and found a wide open Hochstetler, who hammered home the final nail in the coffin with just under 20 seconds to play.



“I thought defensively we were spot on in the second half,” Schlabach said. “We knew we weren’t going to stop Mayle defensively one-on-one, ever, so we had to make it as tough as possible to get it in there to him and try to guard him with three or four people when they did.”

Schlabach also had high praise for Kandel. The senior center gave up a whole lot of inches to Mayle but battled him all night long.

“DK didn’t take any possessions off tonight,” Schlabach said of Kandel. “He was playing hard on every single possession, and he made [Mayle] earn them.”

Hiland had survived an incredible challenge, and both coaches had nothing but praise for their opponent.

“They stayed really close to our shooters and kept Mayle in the paint, and you have to be able to make those mid-range jumpers,” Schlabach said. “They have had some really good teams. The thing with Denny is, no matter what happens in the regular season, his team is always playing their best ball at the end of the year, and this year was no exception.”

“Congratulations to Hiland. They have a great program, and Mark does a super job,” Tucci said. “I was proud of our kids for hanging in there. That was a game until the last 40 seconds.”

As for Mayle, the big senior certainly left his mark on the Hornets’ program. With more than 1,300 points and having collected more than 1,000 rebounds, he moved into the top 10 all-time scorers and completely shattered the school rebounding record.

“He’s pretty incredible,” Tucci said of Mayle, who led all scorers with 13 points, while Moser added nine and Browning and Drew Hutchinson each added four.

The Hawks were paced by Scott Troyer’s 12 points with Miller and Kobe Troyer both notching seven. Kandel, Sisson and Hochstetler all scored six with Hochstetler coming up with all six of his in the final period.

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