Kendall Hochstetler didn’t hit many shots during the Inter-Valley Conference championship game between number four seed Hiland and number two seed Strasburg.
But oh, how the two shots he hit mattered.
Hochstetler drained a 3-pointer at the half to spot Hiland to a 20-17 halftime lead, then saved his best for last, drilling another triple with 44 seconds to play to give his team a 33-31 lead that would eventually become a 36-31 Hiland victory.
The Hawks, who had upended number one seed and previously unbeaten Sandy Valley in the semifinals, took a 13-9 advantage into the second quarter. However, triples from Strasburg twins Mike and Mitch Neidenthal gave the Tigers a momentary 17-15 lead before Kyle Miller scored inside and Hochstetler connected near the end of the half to give Hiland a 20-17 lead.
The third quarter saw the two teams battle back and forth, a Michael Shoup jumper giving Hiland a two point edge at 23-21, Jared Willoughby’s three pushing the Tigers back to a 24-23 lead, and finally Andy Miller’s trey giving Hiland the lead a the end of three 26-24.
Strasburg turned up the heat to begin the fourth period when Ethan Cregan slammed home a 3-pointer and then the Tigers went to big Logan Veltschy inside for a pair of scores and a 31-26 lead.
Andy Miller then took charge for the Hawks. The athletic guard who tallied a game high-18 points, matching his total in the Sandy Valley win, hit a jumper and scored on a drive to cut the margin to 31-30. Strasburg then had three looks at scoring and missed, before Hochstetler stepped into a long-range rainbow to give the Hawks the lead with 44 ticks left.
Strasburg worked for a good shot with time running down, but a shot glanced off the left side of the rim, into the hands of Andy Miller, who took three dribbles up the left sideline before launching a long pass down the floor to a wide open Logan Miller who laid it in for a 35-31 lead with 12.4 seconds to play. Strasburg’s subsequent shot missed, and Andy Miller ended the game with a free throw, securing the title for the Hawks.
Strasburg was led by Mike Neidenthal and Veltschy, who both scored nine points, while Mitch Neidenthal added five and Cregan and Willoughby each ended with three.
Aside from Andy Miller’s 18, the Hawks got six from Kyle Miller and Hocshtetler, whose two huge treys could not have come at a better time for the Hawks.