· Basketball - Holmes County ·

Lady Hawks’ late 19-0 run secures win over Lady P’s in a rivalry rumble

Late Lady Hawks 19-0 run denies Lady P's upset bid

The look on Garaway head coach Dave Shutt’s face following his team’s contest with the Hiland Lady Hawks at Garaway High School on Wednesday, Jan. 31 spoke volumes. Shutt looked emotionally and physically spent. Inside the locker room following his team’s 52-32 loss, many of his players were in tears.

While the Lady Pirates may have lost by 20 points, the game was certainly very much in doubt for a large portion of the contest until Hiland pulled away late.

Facing a Hiland team that hasn’t lost an Inter-Valley Conference game since the 2013-14 season, a stretch of more than 60 games in a row, with Garaway being the team that beat the Lady Hawks most recently, it was easy to see why a hugely successful Lady Pirates team took this loss so hard.

“We’ve got girls in there crying because they really fought and gave it their all,” Shutt said. “There is a silver lining in this. We do get better, and they know that and believe it. We went toe to toe with them for 20 minutes. I thought we were gutsy.”

That didn’t take away from the glaring sting of the loss.

Garaway laid it all on the line, and for a long time it looked as though it might swing an upset. However, with Garaway leading 26-24 late in the third period, the Lady Hawks did what they do best, applying all kinds of pressure by going on a 19-0 run to blow open a game that had been extremely tight up until that point.

“I thought we played with great poise, and we played under control for most of the game,” Shutt said. “We played our game, and we didn’t feel like we had to do anything outside of what we were doing. Then came that 19-0 run, and in the midst of that, all of a sudden, we started to press and tried to do some things that weren’t the best for us. We forced some shots and pressed to try to stop that run and get back in the game, and that is what a run like that can do to a team. I felt like we dictated the tempo in our favor up until that point.”

Early on the Lady Pirates used defense and 3-pointers to stay even with Hiland. However, the Lady Hawks also know a thing or two about playing intense defense, and the two teams took turns hammering away at the other throughout the first half as Garaway limited Hiland’s huge height advantage.

“Garaway did a great job of pressuring the basketball and took us out of some stuff, and we didn’t get the ball into the post like we wanted,” Hiland coach Dave Schlabach said.

Hiland took a 6-3 lead, only to see Sydney Mullet hit back-to-back threes to push Garaway out to a 9-6 advantage. By the time Hiland senior Kennedy Schlabach drove the lane and knocked down a runner near the end of the first quarter, the two teams were right back at where they started, tied at 9-9.

Kallie Regula dropped in her second 3-pointer of the game to give Garaway the lead, and after Maddie Steiner put the Lady P’s up 15-11 with a score inside, the Lady Hawks responded with a Tiffany Weaver score in the paint and two huge Morgan McMillen three-balls that put Hiland up 19-15. Haley Shutt hit a three and then drove for a score. Just like that, the Lady Pirates were back on top 20-19 before Weaver’s two free throws allowed Hiland to take a slim 21-20 lead into the half.

“We definitely needed to get challenged like this where the game was in question at halftime,” coach Schlabach said. “It was good for us. There was no panic at halftime, and I thought our kids responded defensively in the third quarter.”

Much of the third period was more of the same. A Kennedy Schlabach free throw and Morgan Yoder’s drive put Hiland ahead by four, but Mullet ripped a trey, hit on a runner, and Shutt split two free throws to give Garaway a 26-24 lead.

It would be their last as the Lady Hawks would go on one of their patented runs from which Garaway could not recover.

It started innocently enough on Weaver’s two free throws that tied the game. Then Hiland used its height advantage to create second-chance scoring opportunities that really hurt the Lady Pirates. The first resulted in Brynn Mullet’s three, the second turned into a 3-pointer for Yoder and the third led to Sara Keim’s 3-point dagger, which had Garaway reeling, down 35-26 to start the fourth period.

When Yoder canned Hiland’s fourth straight three-ball, followed by five free throws and Keim’s drive for two, Hiland led 45-26.

Coach Schlabach said that more than the offense, it was the defense that dictated the flow of that 19-0 run.

“I felt like we settled in more defensively, and we finally got them to take the shots we wanted them to take, instead of getting the ones they wanted to.”

He said it was encouraging to see Mullet and Yoder, two freshmen, step up and deliver the big daggers that got the run started.

“Those kids haven’t been involved with those runs as freshman,” coach Schlabach said. “I don’t look at them like freshmen anymore, and Morgan probably played the best game of her career.”

Just like that, a hugely entertaining defensive-minded game had turned into a 19-point bulge in Hiland’s favor, and it was over.

“Two offensive rebounds for kick-out threes, and those are the toughest to defended,” Shutt said. “You can’t prepare for something like that, and those really hurt us.”

Both teams showed a penchant for incredible half-court defensive pressure, each forcing the other to set up way beyond the 3-point perimeter. Garaway made it difficult for Hiland to get the ball to their trio of bigs inside, and Hiland’s relentless pressure in the second half limited the Lady Pirates to just 12 points.

“That was a typical game for this rivalry,” coach Schlabach said. “You know both teams are going to bring it. I thought our defensive effort in the second half was pretty big tonight.”

Hiland was paced in scoring by Weaver and McMillen, who both scored 10, while Yoder added eight, Keim scored seven, and Kennedy Schlabach and Mullet each tacked on five. Weaver’s seven boards led Hiland to a lopsided 43-20 advantage on the glass.

Mullet led all scorers with 11 points, Shutt tallied 10, Regula added six and Steiner scored five for the Lady Pirates, who fell to 12-4 and 7-2 in the IVC South. Hiland inched closer to another league crown by moving to 10-0 in league play and 14-4 overall.

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