Melissa Hostetler’s transformation into the complete package has been a marvel to witness.
Two years ago, the Hiland senior was a track and cross country runner wearing a basketball uniform for the Lady Hawks.
Yes, she could go all day long on the court, and she could lay down some decent defense in the post for Dave Schlabach’s crew, but ask her to perform any kind of moves on offense and it was a very foreign request to her.
Flash forward two years, to a new and improved Melissa Hostetler. It has been an unusually late trek in her career, but something clicked for Hostetler last year in terms of her offense, and this year she has been a revelation.
She has gone from a player who had absolutely no offensive potential to a player who Schlabach now works into his offensive rotation. She has added a series of post moves, using ball and head fakes, and she has even become a very capable passer from the blocks.
“I give Melissa all the credit for becoming the player she has become,” Schlabach said. “She made the choice to play with more confidence and to step outside of her comfort zone. A lot of kids say they are defensive stoppers and want to stay in that safe place where they don’t have to push themselves. She decided she is capable of doing a lot more, and has worked incredibly hard at her game to improve herself.”
Schlabach said it is rare to see this kind of transformation in a varsity player at this stage of a career. He said that a number of years ago Rachel Thomas made a similar type of transformation, but to see it happen at this magnitude is rare.
He credited the post player system and assistant coach Nick McMillen for Hostetler’s gains, but said none of it would be possible without her wanting to grow and expand her game.
“She took a chance, and a lot of people are afraid to do that,” Schlabach said. “She was simply filling a role before, and every team needs those kinds of kids, but she wanted more, and to her credit, she went after it.”
Hostetler’s transition from energizer defender to complete player took a bow during Hiland’s 94-10 drubbing of Newcomerstown on Friday, January 21, where she went a perfect 9-of-9 from the floor to lead all scorers in the romp.
Hostetler’s transformation from an offensive liability to a full-bore weapon has marveled even her coaching staff, none of whom ever pictured her progressing to the point where she is today.
“It’s been amazing to watch her grow like she has,” Schlabach said.
As for the game, the Lady Hawks made quick work of their Inter-Valley Conference opponent. Hiland led 27-2 through one quarter, and 59-4 at the half. The lead bulged to 81-4 after three quarters, and Schlabach unloaded his bench in the fourth, where the Trojans scored more points (six) than they had the previous three quarters combined.
A total of six Lady Hawks were in double figure scoring. Aside from Hostetler, Morgan McMillen added 16 and seven rebounds, Kimberly Miller scored a career-high 13, to go with six boards, Tiffany Weaver scored 12 points and added six rebounds, Sara Keim hit three 3-pointers on her way to 11 points and Kennedy Schlabach scored 10 points while doling out seven assists, a number matched by Jessica Troyer.
Perhaps the only downfall for Hiland was the loss of star senior guard Angela Troyer, who scored four points in the first quarter before going down with a mild ankle sprain. It is not deemed to be serious and Troyer should be back soon.