The Hiland Hawks faced two solid challenges while hosting the First Federal Holiday Showcase on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 28 and 29 at the Perry Reese, Jr. Community Center.
While both foes were capable teams, the Hawks used the first quarter in each game to make a monumental statement, leaving the showcase with a pair of victories to improve to 6-3.
In the showcase opener versus Fort Frye, the Hawks used a 20-0 first quarter run to bounce out to a huge 25-6 lead that paved the way for an eventual 64-25 victory.
One night later the Hawks squared off with a very good John Glenn team that is two years removed from a state title. All Hiland did to the Little Muskies was completely shut then down in the opening quarter, not allowing John Glenn to post a single point while taking a 9-0 lead through one period. That gave them enough footing to fend off the Little Muskies by a score of 52-44 in a game that saw the two teams go toe to toe after the defensive shut-out in the opening period.
For Hiland, the offensive explosion in the opening period against Fort Frye overshadowed the one thing that won them both games, and that was their team defense.
Hiland took advantage of Fort Frye’s lack of size and found a number of really good looks in the paint, whether it was from their half-court set or from creating layups off of steals.
The Hawks eventually crept out to a 36-10 lead and were their own worst enemy in giving up three straight turnovers near the end of the first half, but it mattered little as Hiland remained in complete control, thanks to its defense.
Kobe Troyer, who has been the Hawks’ go-to scorer, did his thing early in the third period as he knocked down a layup and then drilled a long 3-pointer to make it 40-15. Hunter Sommers scored on a put-back, and Troyer hit another three-ball. The Hawks’ defense continued to simply dominate the Cadets, and when Johnny Sisson hit a short jumper, the Hawks were ahead 54-21 and would cruise to victory.
In the second game things weren’t quite as easy as a talented group of Little Muskies hung around, despite getting shut out in the first period.
While the defense was brilliant, the Hawks didn’t exactly light it up on offense. Kobe Troyer hit a three, and Scott Troyer, Andy Miller and Damien Kandel all scored two.
The Hawks heated up in the second period by scoring 16 points, and they did it by spreading it around. Sisson and Kandel both scored a pair as six Hawks found the scoring column. However, John Glenn started to find some success on the offensive end and scored a dozen points, meaning the Hawks went into the half leading 25-12.
Despite the Hawks doubling up their opponent, few felt the game was in the bag, and John Glenn continued to push the issue as it tried to claw its way back into the game.
Both teams notched nine points in the third period as Hiland maintained its 13-point edge, and the fourth period saw both teams open it up on offense as John Glenn started attacking the hole and putting Hiland on the line late to try to get back in.
The Hawks netted 18 points in the quarter but had trouble shutting down John Glenn’s Justin Heathcock and Josh Raley, who scored eight and 11 points respectively as John Glenn charged hard. The Little Muskies scored 23 points in the final quarter, this after netting exactly that many over the first three quarters combined.
But Hiland made sure they never were threatened when Andy Miller hit five late free throws and Scott Troyer added three.