Hiland Boys Basketball

Hawks take charge in grinding out 61-53 win over Whitehall-Yearling

Johnny Sisson's big three helped the Hawks win a huge game

There is taking charge in a game, and then there is taking a charge in a game.

Mark Schlabach’s Hiland Hawks took the latter approach — five times — to gut out a challenging 61-53 win over Whitehall-Yearling in the closing game of night one at the First Federal Holiday Showcase at the Reese Center at Hiland High School Thursday, Dec. 29.

Hiland stood in the lane, clenched its teeth and got run over five times, creating five charging calls that helped the Hawks earn the victory.

“We took another four early on that weren’t called,” said Schlabach of his team’s gutsy effort. “We aren’t big enough to block shots, so those are our blocked shots.”

The win kept Hiland perfect on the season at 8-0, and this was one that could have easily gone either way. It took an entire team effort and sound fundamental basketball to put this on in the win column.

“We gutted one out,” Schlabach said of his team’s effort. We’re a little banged up right now, a little tired, but we found a way to we figured a way to gut one out.”

How they gutted it out was by playing their trademark style of on-ball defense and by taking extremely good care of the ball against a quick and athletic Whitehall-Yearling team that has great guard play and loves to attack the rim.

Schlabach said they knew the Rams would be attacking the basket all night long with a vengeance, so he simply had to instill in his players the desire to stand in there and take one for the team.

The other championship-like effort came with their ball-handling. Hiland’s guard trio of Scott Troyer, Andy Miller and Chris Kline has done an impeccable job this season on both ends of the floor, but on this night, they had to deal with the relentless pressure and quickness of the Rams.

Much of t hat fell into the hands of Troyer, who maintained his composure and kept his eyes up to find teammates when bringing up the ball.

“We handled pressure,” Schlabach said. “We were gassed, but we found a way to handle their pressure, and we didn’t have costly turnovers and let them get on any big runs.

“Our guards are really competing on both ends of the floor, and when you do that, you value the ball a little bit more offensively. Scott only had eight points, but he controlled the tempo of the game tonight. Our three guards worked really well together, and they didn’t try to do too much.”

Hiland got out early thanks in large part to Turner Horn, who scored seven of Hiland’s first nine points to spot them a 9-6 lead. Horn would remain hot throughout, scoring a game-high 20 points despite getting banged around all night.

Hiland ended the first quarter with an 18-15 lead, but the Rams quickly tied it and took a 20-18 edge. However, Kobe Troyer buried a 3-pointer, Kline scored on a lay-up and Miller followed suit to give Hiland the lead back at 25-24. The Rams closed to within 25-24, but again Hiland responded when Horn scored two free throws, and when Miller made a steal and fed Kline, the Hawks had a 29-24 advantage at the half.

Whitehall-yearling crept back to within 36-34 mid way through the third period, and gradually got within one before a pair of drives by Antoine Blackshear gave their a 40-39 lead.

Then Johnny Sisson fired up a triple from the corner as time expired and found nothing but net to put the Hawks back in front 42-40, and give them plenty of momentum heading into the final eight minutes.

“They take their first lead of the game, and Johnny hits that huge three,” Schlabach said. “We didn’t let them get going.

Horn scored on and and-one to begin the fourth period, and then Miller did what he does best. The sophomore guard got in his defensive stance and applied relentless pressure on the Rams’ back-up point guard. His intensity forced a turnover that led to a Horn jumper, and Hiland was up 47-40.

“They had subbed their point guard out for their back-up, and we just said, ‘Andy, go get him.’” Schlabach said with a laugh. “He can do that kind of thing. He has been disrupting people all year, and that was a big play.”

With less than two minutes to play and clinging to a four point lead, Hiland would inevitably have to win this one by taking care of the ball and hitting free throws. Its success in the first led to a parade to the free throw line, where the Hawks calmly dropped 9-of-10 free throws to provide the winning margin.

Blackshear played a strong game leading the Rams with 16 points, while point guard CJ Prater also played well, scoring 14 points and making some great penetration passes. TyJuan Childers Jr. added 10 points.

Horn topped the Hawks with his 20 points, and was joined in double figures by Kline, who added 10. Miller added nine and Scott Troyer scored eight, while Noah Sommer, who played a huge game inside, scored six and Kobe Troyer added five. Sisson pitched in with three, but it was a huge three.

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