Hiland Boys Basketball

Hawks incredible early 40-4 run leads to a runaway win over Muskies

Turner Horn and the Hawks fly to easy district win spurred by 40-4 run

To say the Hiland Hawks have put together a couple of pretty impressive runs during their first two tournament games would be a massive understatement.

After posting a 27-0 run to begin their 78-15 sectional final contest win over Barnesville to start the tournament, the Hawks traveled to Tri-Valley High School Tuesday, March 7 to face West Muskingum.

After the Muskies took a 3-0 lead on Kyle Lones’ 3-pointer, all Hiland did was go on a 40-4 tear that left little doubt as to the outcome of the game. Hiland eventually won 71-34, but the enormous outburst to start the game came as a surprise to Hiland head coach Mark Schlabach.

“We were not expecting that at all,” Schlabach said of the early run. “They play in a tough league, they play a tough schedule and they are a good team. We just didn’t expect that, but defensively we were solid tonight.”

Hiland’s impressive run was spurred by its defense, which created a number of turnovers and harried the Muskies into some forced passes and made them play faster than they would have liked. That also led to a huge advantage on the glass, where the Hawks cleaned up on both sides in the first half.

The big run Hiland inch out to an 8-5 lead on four points from Turner Horn. Hiland then ended the first quarter with back-to-back threes from Horn and Kobe Troyer and a pair of scores inside from Chris Kline.

He second quarter was a Hiland clinic, as the Hawks’ defense was incredible, leading to plenty of scoring chances.

Noah Sommers scored twice inside to kick-star the second period, Kline then came up with a couple of steals, Horn hit two free throws and another triple and then Horn and Kline each scored off of steals from Andy Miller and Scott Troyer.

Matt Burnett finally stopped the Muskies drought, but Hiland went right back on the attack. Kline made a steal and fed Horn for a lay-up, Kline then drove for two and Scott Troyer buried a three from the corner.

That is basically how a 40-4 run takes place.

“Our pressure was the difference tonight,” Schlabach said. “We tried to challenge our guys at the end of the first quarter. We felt that we didn’t do a good job of going out and hitting them, and they were the aggressors. After that our guys did a great job, and a lot of that came because of our pressure. We forced their guards away from the hoop, then you end up having to just box out one or two kids.”

Up 42-11 at the break, Hiland came out and enjoyed a Kobe Troyer three that extended the lead to 45-11, and then the Hawks got a little sloppy and a tad selfish. Schlabach said that they try to focus on playing 32 minutes of sound basketball, but with an enormous lead, it can be a daunting task.

“As much as we talk about wanting to play 32 minutes, it is tough to do with a lead like that. But we did eventually settle in and we got some stops, and our transition defense was better and we got back to playing unselfishly and we moved the ball and righted the ship.”

Hiland still managed to win the third quarter 15-12, and Schlabach unloaded his bench early in the fourth period, and all of the hawks earned some valuable tournament play experience.

That fourth quarter saw Kandel working hard inside to score, while Horn capped off his big night with an and-one, and Kobe Troyer and Kendall Hochstetler both cashed in on three-balls.

The Hawks continue to gel at a time when every coach wants his team to be at its best.

Horn ended the night with 21 points, while Kline netted 18 off the bench, Kobe Troyer scored 11 on the strength of three 3-pointers, Scott Troyer added five and Andy Miller, Kandel, Sommers and Hochstetler all added four points apiece. West Muskingum was paced by Lones and Gunner Hazen who both scored eight, while Drew McKenzie pitched in with six.

“Even though we lost that Garaway game late in the year, we played really well,” Schlabach said. “We have had a number of games in a row where we have played really well.”

The driving force behind that is last year’s district loss to Garaway in a game where the Hawks were pummeled by the Pirates in the district final.

“We have had a foul taste in our mouth since that district final last year,” Schlabach said. ‘The focus point so far this year has been to get to this game (district championship) and have another crack at that.”

Playing inspired basketball certainly set the table for that to happen, and now the number two seed Hawks will face a number 12 seed Tusky Valley team that upset number one seed Martins Ferry and then knocked off the sixth-seeded Coshocton Redskins.

Schlabach praised Trojans’ head coach Steve Franks for the way he is able to get his team to play its game and dictate tempo.

“They are a team that plays their style, and we will have a hard time playing our style against them,” Schlabach said of the Trojans. “They are not playing like a 12-seed.

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