Over the past couple of seasons the Ridgewood Generals have given the Hiland Lady Hawks and the rest of the Inter-Valley Conference trouble, boasting a strong team filled with great athletes.
However, the Generals lost a ton of talent to graduation, and this year’s crew is still trying to find itself, which was not good news for them when they faced Hiland at the Reese Center on Wednesday, Jan. 3.
Hiland roared out to a 26-0 lead and kept rolling even after Ridgewood finally got on the scoreboard late in the first quarter. Hiland never looked back in dismantling Ridgewood 87-32 to keep their IVC mark spotless at 5-0 while improving the overall mark to 8-2.
Hiland’s full-court defensive pressure created plenty of issues for the Generals, who committed eight first-quarter turnovers that helped Hiland pounce early. Kennedy Schlabach held the hot hand in the quarter, delivering three 3-pointers, but she was far from the lone Lady Hawk to enjoy a big opening quarter.
Sara Keim scored seven points, Morgan Yoder added six and Zoe Miller tallied eight as Hiland raced out to a huge advantage.
What made head coach Dave Schlabach happy was that his team did it from shooting the lights out of the gymnasium. Hiland connected on fourteen 3-pointers in the game including five in that opening period. Considering Schlabach has lamented his team’s inability to shoot the ball with any consistency this season from downtown, it was encouraging. The longtime Hiland skipper said he hopes it will be a harbinger of good things to come.
“We just haven’t shot the ball well this year, so it was nice to see us knock down some shots,” Schlabach said.
Hiland’s hot streak continued throughout the first half as the Lady Hawks went into the locker room sporting a 51 on their side of the scoreboard. The offense continued to flow freely, and Hiland got a boost with the return of senior Morgan McMillen.
McMillen, an All-Ohioan as a junior who suffered a knee injury this summer, saw her first action and hit 3-for-4 on 3-pointers in just five minutes to show there could well be some light at the end of the rehabilitation tunnel for her. That would be a huge boon for a team that recently lost its best post player in Tiffany Weaver, who was having a sensational season.
While the Hiland offense may not be a thing of beauty to date for Hiland, nobody is complaining about the Lady Hawks’ defense. Throughout this season Hiland has used the first quarter to create big leads based off of its defense, and this game saw Hiland again hold its opponent to two or fewer points, something it has done with regularity.
“We’re a team that is built on defense, and hopefully we can continue to generate some easy scoring chances through our defense,” Schlabach said.
Schlabach and Zoe Miller ended the evening as co-top scorers, each netting 16 points. Schlabach added 11 assists and three steals while Miller collected five rebounds, which tied her for the team lead with Kim Miller, Krista Troyer and Morgan Yoder. Keim nailed three treys en route to a 15-point evening while McMillen and Morgan Yoder added nine points. Madison Yoder scored eight with Kim Miller adding six, and both Kelsey Swihart and Troyer adding four. Bryn Mullet added three steals, four rebounds and five assists while Troyer added a game-high four steals on the evening.
The Lady Hawks ended the night making 14-of-33 on 3-point shots while going an impressive 15-of-18 from the charity stripe.