Hiland Boys Basketball

Hochstetler spurs Hawks to IVC Showcase win over Sandy Valley

Hiland's Sam Habeger fires a pass over Sandy Valley's Bryce Kelly

For the entire first half of the second-place game of the Inter-Valley Showcase in boys basketball, the Hiland Hawks and Sandy Valley Cardinals went toe to toe in a game that looked destined to go to the wire.

But as the first half wound down, Hiland junior Kendall Hochstetler stepped into a pair of 3-pointers and hit a long jumper as time expired to grow Hiland’s lead from three to 10 points at 38-28. That run spurred Hiland on to a huge second half and a 58-45 victory.

While the game did not factor into any kind of conference meaning, Hiland head coach Mark Schlabach said it meant plenty to his team. “There wasn’t a lot of importance on it in terms of the league or whatever, but we’ve won 10 in a row, and we wanted to win 11 in a row and keep that positive momentum going,” Schlabach said.

Squaring off Saturday, Feb. 17 at Claymont High School, Sandy Valley’s Dan Bartholomew and Bryce Kelly were giving the Hawks fits, Bartholomew scoring 13 points and Kelly adding eight.

However, the Hawks used a balanced attack to stay even or in front almost the entire game. John Sisson’s trey midway through the first period gave Hiland the lead at 7-6, and later Jared Eichelberger’s and-one was countered by Hiland’s Sam Habeger’s score and Andy Miller’s two free throws. Kelly hit a jumper to get Sandy Valley to within 16-15, but Sisson knocked down his second triple of the quarter to give Hiland a 19-15 lead after one period.

“With Scott Troyer (Hiland’s leading scorer) sick, we weren’t sure what we were going to get from him, so it was huge that Johnny stepped in and delivered like he did,” Schlabach said.

Sisson would hit again, and Andy Miller would can a trey, but the Cardinals weren’t going away. Buckets from Chris Parker, Bartholomew and Kelly left the Cards trailing 29-26, and that was when Hochstetler went off. The junior hit from beyond the arc, twice in a row. Kobe Troyer added a free throw, and after Bartholomew scored on a drive, the Hawks went for the last shot, and Hochstetler delivered a nail while toeing the 3-point arc as time expired.

“We didn’t play with a lot of energy and passion in the first half, but I thought we really had a strong second half,” Schlabach said. “Defensively we were really good again, and we have really challenged Kendall to step up and elevate his game, and he did tonight when we needed it the most.”

Now up by double figures, Hiland was about to take command, and it would be Hochstetler kick-starting the second half on a lay-in from a tremendous dish from Damien Kandel. A couple of Andy Miller drives and another from Scott Troyer, and all of a sudden the Hawks had ballooned the lead to 15 at 49-34.

The Cardinals would creep back to within 10 on Brodie Kelly’s 3-pointer, but a Kobe Troyer trey and Scott Troyer’s two free throws pushed the lead right back to 15, and time ran out on Sandy Valley’s upset bid.

“We had a stretch in the second half where we didn’t get a score, but we got great shots on three of them, and we just didn’t knock down shots,” Schlabach said. “We called timeout when they got it back to 10 points, and we were fine.”

Once they did that, putting the ball in the hands of dependable guard duo Scott Troyer and Miller makes coming back on Hiland a tough ordeal.

“We feel really comfortable with the ball in their hands,” Schlabach said of his guards. “I think they learned a valuable lesson in our loss to Garaway because we didn’t take care of it in that game. Since then they have been really solid with taking care of the ball.”

Sandy Valley was led by Bartholomew’s 19 points, but he scored only six in the second half. After scoring eight points in the first half, Kelly proved to be a nonfactor in the second half, scoring just one point.

The Hawks were a well-balanced group. Hochstetler topped the team with 14 points while Kobe Troyer and Miller both added 13. Scott Troyer and Sisson each tacked on eight.

“It was a good win for us,” Schlabach said. “I thought we got a nice effort across the board, and to have all of those guys step up with Scott sick was great.”

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