Hiland Boys Basketball

Hawks’ excellent dream is a Titans nightmare

Noah Sommers is guarded closely by Jordan Stokes

Welcome to Dream World.

Dream World is a place where coaches can kick back, relax and dream about where their team will take them and how they will play in the upcoming game.

On Saturday, January 21 at The Pit in Triway High School, Titans head coach B.J. Sanderson and Hiland skipper Mark Schlabach entered Dream World.

Schlabach had a terrific dream.

Sanderson had an absolute nightmare.

Hiland came out on fire, putting Triway in a huge hole immediately, and perhaps the very worst-case scenario played itself out as the Hawks rolled to a 78-44 victory that was no dream, but a huge dose of reality, and for the Hawks, they wouldn’t mind staying in that particular dream mode for along, long time.

“That’s probably the best first half of basketball we have played in four years,” Schlabach said.

For Triway, it was the nightmare that wouldn’t end.

“It could not have started any worse for us,” Sanderson said. “We had that deer in the headlights look. I have seen them play three times, and they haven’t played anywhere close to that level. It put us behind the eight ball, and their pressure dictated everything that we did. We couldn’t get anything offensively, but you have to give them credit, they played extremely hard. It is hard to simulate that (pressure) in practice, because any shot was hard for us to get.”

Sanderson had seen how the diamond-and-one defense had worked for Garaway when it employed the in-your-face man-to-man defense against Turner Horn and let the other Hawks try to beat them. It worked so well that the Pirates earned a big road win at the Reese Center, so Sanderson went for it.

“We came out in a diamond-and-one, and had seen Garaway do that exact same thing,” Sanderson said. “Hiland missed shots. Tonight, they came out and hit shots right off the bat, so that didn’t work. To make matters worse, (Gabe) Walker gets two quick fouls.”

That diamond defense lasted all of three possessions, after Hiland’s Kobe Troyer, Horn and Chris Kline all buried 3-pointers to spot Hiland to a 9-2 lead. Meanwhile, Triway’s top scoring threat Gabe Walker plowed through a Hawk on his way to the hoop early in the fray and picked up his second foul, forcing him to the bench.

Schlabach said the previous experience against the diamond-and-one (box-and-one) against Garaway was an unpleasant memory, so it was nice to see his team erase that with the performance in The Pit.

“To come out and execute makes the coaches happy, and the players, it takes a weight off of their shoulders,” Schlabach said of the success against the diamond-D. “It’s nice when you work on something and it comes together. Unlike Garaway, we took good shots. We had very few shots that you’d say weren’t good shots.”

It was the perfect storm of horrors for Sanderson, whose nightmare would not end.

Things quickly went from bad to worse for the Titans, who may as well have been facing the knife-wielding nightmare man himself, Freddy Kruger.

A 9-4 deficit quickly became 24-9 as the Hawks went on a 14-0 scoring spree. Kline penetrated for an and-one, then Noah Sommers found him for an easy score. A Titans turnover led to a score from Scotty Troyer, and Kline made a steal and went coast-to-coast. Andy Miller then hit Horn with a beautiful back-door lob pass and Kline buried a triple, and the nightmare for the Titans continued, although Titan Nick Sparr would fight valiantly, scoring 11 of his team’s 18 first-half points.

Meanwhile, the Hawks Dream World, they had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Leading 28-8 through one quarter, a 12-3 Hiland run spelled the end for Triway, as the nightmare on state Route 226 continued.

Damien Kandel scored to start the quarter, and Scott Troyer knocked down a trey. Bo Flinner finally canned a three-ball, but Sommers scored inside, then Hiland made the play of the game when Kobe Troyer made a steal, found Kline racing down the floor, and he then whipped a behind the back pass to Horn who came roaring down the lane and laid it in for a 37-11 advantage. Moments later, as if to remind the Titans that they were embedded in a nightmare of epic proportions, Hiland hauled down four consecutive offensive rebounds and finally found Kobe Troyer, who plopped in a trey to make it 40-11.

The second half was Triway trying hard to simply represent, although the Hawks would push the lead out to as many as 37 points as Hiland would continue to find the open man and score at will. Cole Hissong and Flinner and finally Matt Falkenberg, who would score Triway’s final eight points, would at least keep the Titans’ effort going.

Schlabach said last year’s overtime loss to the Titans really stung, and he noted that fueled the fire for his team’s effort.

“Our kids don’t usually talk about stuff like that, but I heard our kids talking about that last night and even before tonight’s game,” Schlabach said. “They kind of played with a little chip on their shoulder tonight. But we were able to do that and stay composed. We just played great basketball.”

Horn and Kline both netted 14 to lead Hiland, but they were not alone in their effort. Scott Troyer added 12, Sommers added 10, Kobe Troyer scored nine, Kandel added eight and Miller pitched in with seven. The Titans were led by Sparr’s 12, although he had just one after the half, while Flinner added 10, Falkenberg scored eight and Hissong added five.

As for the Triway nightmare, Sanderson said this is one scary movie they will not be watching on film again.

“We won’t be watching this on film,” Sanderson said. “But the good thing is, we get Tusky (Valley) Tuesday, so we don’t have to wait. To have to sleep on this game for a week…”

Nobody wants to keep a nightmare on the back burner for that long.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *