Your opponent is 2-0 in the early regular season. They have clobbered one team by 30 points. They have destroyed another foe by 50 points.
It sounds like a challenge for any team to face such a juggernaut, does it not?
That was not the case for the Hiland Lady Hawks (3-1) on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Perry Reese Community Center, where Hiland laid waste to previously unbeaten and unchallenged Malvern, holding the Hornets scoreless in the first period en route to a 77-9 victory.
“They came in 2-0, having beaten Tuscarawas Central Catholic by 30 and Sebring McKinley by 50,” said Hiland coach Dave Schlabach. “We thought maybe, but once we got going, we knew we had been here before.”
With the Lady Hawks baring their teeth right out of the gate, it appeared as though Schlabach was not only emptying his bench but inviting fans to come join in the game as he substituted at length early and often.
If Malvern had any hopes of turning around a career record which has seen Hiland get the best of the Hornets in 66 out of their prior 71 contests, those hopes were long gone just minutes into the game.
It took Malvern 32 minutes to get to nine points. It took Hiland about three.
The Lady Hawks came out banging on all cylinders, and roared to a 20-0 lead through the first quarter.
Malvern was able to gather itself, if you want to call it that, by putting up six pints in the second quarter. However, Hiland duplicated its first quarter effort, making it 40-6 at the half.
The six point Hornets outburst only seemed to infuriate the Lady Hawks, who went on a 15-1 scoring binge in the third quarter, as they nearly duplicated their first quarter whitewashing of Malvern.
Leading large heading into the fourth quarter, Schlabach had the luxury of playing his first, second and third stringers, and would have snuck in some ball girls had he been allowed to do so.
The fourth quarter was just a carbon copy of the first three, Hiland outscoring the Hornets 22-2 to complete the 77-9 drubbing.
“This early in the season, you want to try to get into some kind of rhythm, but we didn’t play anyone more than 19 minutes,” said Schlabach. “It did give us a great opportunity to get all of the younger kids some valuable varsity experience, so that is always a plus.”
On the evening, Kendra Schlabach was the lone Hiland player to log more than 17 minutes (19). Regina Hochstetler again had the hot hand for Hiland, pouring in a game-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Sophomore Megan Beachy added 14 points including a pair of 3-pointers, Natalie Nickol added seven points and seven rebounds to pace Hiland to a huge 39-21 edge on the glass. Jasmine Goings added six points, six boards and four steals, Rachel Horn had four points, four boards and four steals, Sasha Goings matched Horn in points and steals, Alex Troyer added five points and three steals, Emily Yoder had five points, three steals and four assists, Jenica Schrock recorded five points and three steals and Schlabach had four rebounds, five assists and six steals. The Lady Hawks put 11 players into the scoring column, laying a total of 13 players.
For true fans of the game, or lack thereof on the evening, those who watched the double header including the junior varsity game were the true warriors of the night. The Hiland JV team coasted to a 52-2 victory, allowing just one bucket for the Hornets.
The only bad news facing the Lady Hawks was the year-ending knee injury to sophomore guard Benay Miller. The highly touted Miller played several games last season as a freshman before blowing out her knee, and even though there is a reported two percent chance of the same injury occurring to the same knee, that is exactly what happened to Miller. She will be lost for 12 months as she rehabilitates.