All season long Denny Tucci’s Malvern Hornets have been winning basketball games and when the have lost, they have been right there in striking distance, most of those losses within four points. The one thing the Hornets haven’t figured out is how to handle Mark Schlabach’s Hiland Hawks.
Coming into their Inter-Valley Conference contest Friday, February 3, the Hawks had been the lone team to defeat Malvern by double figures, that a 10-point Hiland win at home Dec. 23. That was more than enough to make everyone excited about the opportunity to see a real barn burner at Malvern High School in their return engagement. However, the Hawks got a hugely consistent team effort across the board, played very consistent basketball throughout and remained the only team to defeat the Hornets by double figures, only this time by a 16 point margin, 63-47.
Hiland used a nice first-quarter push to garner a 16-7 lead though the game’s first eight minutes. The Hornets stayed within shouting distance throughout the second quarter, and trailed by eight at 32-24 at the break. But the Hawks used a 14-8 third quarter to pull away, then built that lead as the fourth quarter progressed, allowing them to cruise down the stretch.
Hiland’s electric sixth man, Chris Kline, continued to shine off the bench for Coach Schlabach, tallying 15 points to lead all scorers. He was far from alone in the scoring column, with Noah Sommers netting a dozen, Turner Horn adding 11, Scott Troyer and Kobe Troyer both pitching in with seven, Andy Miller adding three and John Sisson, Damien Kandel, Claye Hummel and Evan Casey all pitching in a pair.
Meanwhile, the defense was faced with shutting down the 2016 IVC Player of the Year in Jaret Majestic. The Malone University-bound senior scored a team-high 11 points, and moved into a tie for second among Malvern’s all-time career leaders. Majestic moved into the tie during the third-quarter, but Hiland held the high-scoring threat scoreless throughout the fourth period. Jake Moser added 10 points for Malvern, scoring eight of those in the second quarter when the Hornets were able to hang tough. Jordan Browning canned three triples for his nine points, while Mark Mayle and Brandon Patterson both added six. Hiland’s quickness out front allowed it to shut down Malvern’s quick Drew Hutchinson, who scored just three points. Malvern is now 11-7 on the year.
Hiland, the state’s No. 10 ranked team in Div. III, now owns a sparkling 16-2 record overall with just one loss in the IVC, which keeps them a game ahead of Strasburg, which it will face on the road Feb. 7 in what should be a fantastic showdown.