Hiland head coach Dave Schlabach was faced with a tough coaching challenge during the Lady Hawks’ 71-36 victory over Carrollton Monday, January 30 at the Reese Center.
Yes, Carrollton can be a dangerous team, despite a sub-.500 record, and it was missing one of its stars in Angela Starr, who is with a knee injury. However, the real coaching dilemma came courtesy of his own daughter, Kennedy Schlabach, who was on the verge of scoring her 1,000th career point. Any time that happens, inevitably the joy and drama or reaching such a lofty goal overshadows the game itself, which was the case in this one.
“Yeah, that changes a lot when this kind of thing happens,” Coach Schlabach said.
He said one advantage was that his daughter had no idea that anything special was going on. As a coach, he is trying to keep his team humming along on all cylinders, but he said something this special will always make that a tough task. “As a coach, I try not to let that effect the way we approach the game, but we probably called more sets tonight than we have all season,” Coach Schlabach said with a chuckle.
However, as a coach and a father, Schlabach recognizes how much time and energy his daughter has expended to get to where she is. Hiland led 18-3 after the first quarter, but the Warriors fought hard in the second quarter and stayed close, getting outscored just 15-13, meaning Hiland took a 33-16 lead into the locker room at the half. Carrollton is a solid team that is about one good player away from being really good,” Coach Schlabach said. ‘They have two solid guards and a big, but I thought our depth really took a toll on them tonight.”
Coach Schlabach said that the sheer number of fouls called on his team in the second quarter alone kept Hiland from getting into any kind of flow. “We had so many fouls in the quarter, and it kind of took us out of our game,” Schlabach said. “It didn’t let us get into any kind of rhythm, and we never really got anything going.”
That was not the case in the third quarter, when the Lady Hawks bolted out to a large lead and did get on a roll, producing 22 points to just nine for Carrollton, and the 55-25 lead allowed everyone to turn their attention to Kennedy Schlabach’s effort to join the Lady Hawks’ 1,000 career point club.
The genuinely impressive thing was that Schlabach had no idea coming into the game what she was about to accomplish, and not even the sight of her brother Brady, who is currently attending The Ohio State University, triggered any kind of clue. “I had absolutely no idea,” Kennedy Schlabach said of her achievement. ‘I mean, I looked into the stands and saw Brady sitting there, and I thought, ‘Why is he here?’ It never dawned on me.” Schlabach said she knew coming into this season that the possibility of reaching the 1,000-career point plateau was a very good one, but she said she really never gave it much thought.
However, her teammates knew, which is why there were audible gasps late in the third quarter when Schlabach missed a gimme lay-up with a 30-point lead. It was between the third and fourth quarter that Schlabach found out what all of the ado was about, when Morgan McMillen and Jessica Troyer spilled the beans that she was four points away.
However, it didn’t take long to rectify that situation. Schlabach scored on a drive to open the fourth quarter, then moments later, after unselfishly passing up a shot at 1,000 points when she drove down the lane and gave McMillen an open look, she finally sealed the deal by driving the right baseline, pulling up from about six-feet and knocking down a short jumper.
The game was stopped so Hiland could celebrate, and the huge grin on Schlabach’s face was matched only by the exuberance of McMillen, who provided one large bear hug near the top of the key. The rest of the game was almost immaterial, as the Lady Hawks maintained their large lead to put win number 18 against one loss on the books.
Used with permission, courtesy of Storied Rivals Sports Media, LLC
Schlabach now joins a list of who’s who for the Lady Hawks, a talented group of scorers that includes Jena Stutzman (1,645 points), Lindsey Stuckey (1,627), Regina Hochstetler (1,467), Erin Hostetler (1,450), Launie Shaw (1,285), Launa Hochstetler (1,116), Hilary Weaver (1,081), McKenzie Miller (1,069), Julie Gerber (1,066) and Jill Yoder (1,066). The junior point guard said she is in awe of having her name listed among those all-time greats, and she even has one more season and the rest of this year to build on that number, although she said she would gladly trade it all for a state championship.
“It is an honor to be listed in there with all of those great players, “Schlabach said. “I think more than anything it shows how much hard work and dedication each of them put into the game.”