Hiland Boys Basketball

Hawks have their way, have their day in dismantling Glenwood 75-32 in regional final tilt

Another Hawks berth at state had Kendall Hochstetler and the Hawks smiling wide

Over the decades the Hiland Hawks have been embroiled in some pretty intense regional basketball games. Skyvue, Richmond Heights, Central Christian and others have made getting to the state tournament a chore.

The Hawks will not be posting their Div. IV Athens regional final victory over Glenwood in the “hair-raisers” category.

Hiland bolted to a 15-2 lead, demonstrating dominance in every phase of the game, and smoked the Tigers 75-32 in a game that was simply never in doubt.

Hiland’s defense set the tone early when Kendall Hochstetler made a steal and went the distance, and after a Sam Habeger score inside, Kody Miller recorded a steal and fed Habeger for a lay-up and a 6-0 lead.

Kyle Sexton got the Tigers going by splitting two of four free throws, but the Hawks were having little trouble finding open looks on the offensive end. Hochstetler scored on a drive, as did Habeger, and Will Schlabach drilled the first of his four 3-pointers for a 13-2 lead. Marcus Sanders had a free throw go down, and the Hawks reeled off six more points when Jared Raber fed Hunter Sommers, Korrie Hostetler scored on a put-back and Andy Miller’s steal led to another Hostetler score.

Leading 19-3, the state top-ranked Div. IV team was having its way with Glenwood.

After Hochstetler scored twice to kick off the second quarter, Glenwood was still in search of its first field goal and finally got one at the 6:22 mark when Tyler Caldwell scored in the paint to make it 23-7.

That just seemed to ignite the Hawks. Kody Miller and Hochstetler scored, and the only negative for the Hawks was their starters were getting into some big foul trouble, sending Glenwood to the charity stripe over and over again. However, leading 31-11, Schlabach hit a second 3-pointer, Hostetler completed an and-one on a nice assist from Andy Miller and Hochstetler buried a trey, all around two Tigers’ free throws, which left the Hawks up 40-13. After Sexton gave the Tigers their second field goal, the Hawks ended the half with a flurry. Schlabach canned 3-pointers three and four in the half, Hostetler soared for a put-back, and Hochstetler hit a free throw with four seconds left. The Hawks were owners of a 49-15 bulge at intermission.

While it is a rarity to see a running clock take place at the regional level, which kicks in when a team leads by 35 points or more, it was about to happen early in the third quarter.

Saunders slashed to the hole for two to begin the second half, but Hochstetler scored off a great assist from Sommers and then hit a triple, and the clock was in free fall with the Hawks leading 54-17.

It would be on running time the rest of the way as Hiland continued its onslaught. Hiland, which had worn down a Tigers team that played just six players, began a furious fast-break pace that led to easy lay-ins for Kody Miller, Sommers and Raber.

After Andy Miller’s triple put the Hawks ahead 63-23 with five seconds left, Glenwood took a time-out and got a lift in spirit when Saunders nailed a corner-three as time expired.

The fourth quarter flew with the clock in continual motion, and Glenwood attempted a full-court press that didn’t work. The benches emptied, and a Chris Shetler drive and Reece Hochstetler’s 3-pointer capped off the massive 75-32 victory.

For the Hawks, the game consisted of seemingly doing whatever they wanted to do whenever they wanted to do it. It was, in a sense, every coach’s dream game.

“Other than foul trouble,” coach Schlabach said of the nearly perfect game plan and execution. “We were fortunate in the tournament we had four games in a row that were called really loose. We got on our guys at halftime. We have to adjust. They were calling it tight, and we had to make the adjustment, and we really didn’t, but that was good to see because next game you never know what we will see.”

Offensively there were no issues as Hiland shot an impressive 32-of-60 from the floor and made 9-of-21 of its 3-point attempts. That compared quite favorably to Glenwood’s evening as the Tigers managed to make just 10-of-43 action shots for 23 percent including an abysmal 1-of-19 from beyond the arc.

“We thought there were some things in their defense we could take advantage of,” Schlabach said. “The biggest thing was that we didn’t need to take a ton of threes. We felt we could get to the rim, and even though they had the two big guys inside, we felt we could go after them. I was happy with our shot selection.”

For several years following Hiland’s back-to-back state titles in 2011 and 2012, the Hawks failed to get out of districts.

That has changed, and Hiland has reeled off three straight regional final appearances, two of which they have now won.

“It never gets old; you don’t ever take it for granted,” coach Schlabach said. “We have had better buy-in: weight room, better buy-in. Kids are working on their game on their own more. Those years we didn’t win a district championship we had kids that played really hard, and I don’t want to take anything away from them. Defense has been a big part of it, but sometimes things have to go your way.”

Schlabach then added that a four-year starter also has been a huge plus for the recent success.

“We have an Andy Miller,” Schlabach said. “Defense and point guard play gets you to where you’re going. We have had Andy, and other teams haven’t, and I’ve said that a lot of times.”

The other part of this team’s success has been its players understanding roles and playing them to the best of their ability. That has led to quality production across the board for the Hawks.

“Kendall [Hochstetler] and Andy [Miller], we rely on them to do a lot, but it is nice when you’ve got guys like Jared Raber with all of the little things he does on the floor and Korrie Hostetler, who had the biggest game of the year tonight with Sam [Habeger] in some foul trouble. We have had different guys step up all year, and again, you don’t get here tonight if you don’t have that.”

Hochstetler poured in a game-high 24 points including three 3-pointers while hauling down five rebounds. Schlabach added 12 points, all on four triples, while Hostetler scored nine points to go with five boards and a pair of blocked shots. Andy Miller scored five points, hauled down seven rebounds and amassed nine assists. Habeger scored eight points to go with six rebounds, Sommers logged four points and seven boards, and Kody Miller and Raber each tallied four points. Glenwood got eight apiece from Sexton and Caldwell, seven from Saunders, and five from Jerome McKinney.

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