Hiland Boys Basketball

It’s ‘Knightmare on Lane Street’ as Hawks fall 58-38 to Crestview in Div. IV state final

Andy Miller and the Hawks can't survive a nightmare finale

While the Hiland Hawks state semifinal 57-50 victory over the St. Henry Redskins may have been described in movie terms as a thriller, the start of their Div. IV state final game Saturday, March 23 at the Schottenstein Center on Lane Street versus a talented Convoy Crestview team would have definitely qualified as a true-blue horror film.

Crestview went on a 10-0 run to start the game to put the Hawks into a huge hole. Four quarters later it was a full-blown complete horror movie as the Knights hammered the Hawks 58-38.

“Crestview is a great basketball team, and they made sure that we were never completely comfortable in that basketball game,” Hiland head coach Mark Schlabach said.

With Wade Sheets leading the way, Crestview darted out to a 10-0 lead, and Hiland wouldn’t find success until the 3:15 mark of the first quarter when Sam Habeger drove baseline for a score. However, Hiland got a stop, and Habeger scored again, and when he missed the chance for an and-one, Jared Raber snuck in and grabbed the board. That led to an Andy Miller score off of penetration that cut the lead to 10-6 with 2:20 left.

With one minute to play, Sheets would connect from downtown to lead Crestview to a 15-6 advantage, but just like he did in game one, Raber came up with a big triple of his own to trim the deficit to 15-9, and the Hawks had somehow eluded the knife-wielding bad guy in the horror movie and survived reel one, trailing by just six.

Hiland’s second act was a much more enjoyable endeavor, an uplifting start that saw Habeger score inside and Kendall Hochstetler drill a 3-pointer for the Hawks to sneak to within 15-14. Moments later after a Javen Etzler score inside, Andy Miller penetrated for two. Javin Etzler hit a jumper, and Hunter Sommers answered with his own before Raber drew an offensive foul on the other end. With a chance to take its first lead, the Hawks misfired twice, and Javin Etzler scored on a tip-in. Hiland missed again, and with 2:08 left in the half, Sheets put the Knights ahead 23-19 with two free throws. Derick Dealey then hit back-to-back treys to make it 29-19. The Hawks thought they had escaped the horror flick genre, but just like a good horror film does, it jumped up and got them out of nowhere.

“We had that one run in the second quarter, a tie basketball game where we were feeling that the game was in our tempo, in our control,” Schlabach said. “Then they ended the game with that really great run. We never got comfortable on either end of the floor, and we attribute that to them. Their run at the end of the half came on so fast. As coaches, we didn’t do a good job there.”

“We came over after a media time-out, and I didn’t care for our demeanor at all,” Crestview head coach Jeremy Best said. “We talked about it. We got up 10-0, and we were like, ’What’s going on here guys?’ Let’s figure this out and lock in here, and we did that. We felt good in the locker room. I liked our vibe.”

Reel two had taken on the look of a nice action flick, only to evolve into the horror story part two, and the Hawks were being hunted.

Javin Etzler made sure the Hawks remembered they were stuck in a horror show by knocking down a long triple to begin the second half as Crestview built its biggest lead at 32-19. Sam Habeger scored inside, but Javin Etzler answered, and after the teams traded turnovers, Habeger danced into the paint to make it 34-23. The Hawks simply could not string any defensive stops together, something they have relied on heavily all season long, and Crestview took a 39-25 lead on a pair of Sheets scores.

While the Etzler brothers were the most feared Knights, it would be Sheets who was the scariest Knight as he continued to burn Hiland inside and out, scoring on a pull-up jumper and a couple of free throws around an Andy Miller drive for a 42-29 lead. Moments later Sheets scared up another three points, this time on an and-one for a 45-29 Knights’ bulge.

The nightmare was getting scarier for Hiland, the venomous antagonist getting closer and closer to striking for good.

Sheets hit again from 15 feet, and the clock was about to strike the midnight hour on the Hawks as the closing act was about to come. It would not end well for the Hawks.

The Knights tried to run some clock and lost some momentum, but it took Hiland more than two minutes to find a hoop from Andy Miller to trim the deficit to 47-31. Miller’s free throw made it 47-32, but it was simply not going to be the feel-good ride off into the sunset Hiland was hoping for.

The final act saw the horror story come to its fateful conclusion in a most unappealing way for Hiland. A team that had done so much so well all season long had little go its way in its final effort.

Andy Miller and Sommers both canned threes around a thunderous Kalen Etzler dunk, and the Hawks and Knights let the final minute run down on the season and Crestview’s 58-38 win.

“It wasn’t our best game of the year in terms of executing, but Crestview shot an unbelievable percentage and made some huge plays, especially Sheets and Dealey,” Schlabach said.


From the bench

“A lot of those things, when you look at the numbers, the game can change so quickly. If we have a four-point lead at some time in the second quarter, it puts more pressure on your role players. Then we are in better position to rebound when they miss shots, but they were so comfortable. They are going to dominate the boards when they are that comfortable and can go in there and do whatever they want to do. We were never able to put the pressure on them where they felt that pressure that they needed to make that big shot,” coach Schlabach said.

“I came here to win, so this is obviously disappointing,” Habeger said


“Not many other teams can say they got to play in the state final game. I wanted to win, but we left everything out there. We have played together since we were in fourth grade, and coach was coaching us in biddy ball. This class is definitely something I will always remember. I have never been close to a group of guys in my life. It’s going to be hard to move on, but it has been a great run,” Miller said.

“The reason we did what we did was these eight guys here (seniors). Yes, we have talent. We have guys that are athletic, but you’ve got to love each other, and you have to have relationships. You have to trust each other. I’ve been in this business long enough to know that isn’t easy to do. These guys are the reason why. What a great example they set for our team, for our community and even myself on how to do things the right way,” coach Best said.

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