Paul A Miller photos
While the OHSAA doesn’t keep tournament records like scoring runs, if it did, the Hiland Hawks could well have put together the most incredible scoring spree in OHSAA boys regional basketball history.
In their Div. IV regional semifinal bout with Fairfield Christian Academy on Tuesday, March 13 at the Convocation Center at Ohio University in Athens, the Hawks were embroiled with a spirited FCA team hungry for another huge upset.
However, Hiland put together a mind-boggling 44-3 run, going on tears of 22-0 and 20-0, to put this regional tilt in the win column with a 64-23 victory.
Riding high after upsetting highly touted Fisher Catholic 51-48, the Knights came in brimming with confidence versus the Hawks. For a quarter and a half, FCA made it look like another upset was possible.
A bucket by Nolan Blowers put the Knights up 11-10, which would be their last lead of the game. A John Sisson tip-in to beat the buzzer put Hiland up 12-11 after one quarter, and Kendall Hochstetler’s score in the paint pushed the lead to 14-13. The two teams traded threes, and Damien Kandel completed an and-one off a dazzling pass from Andy Miller, but Bradley Anderson answered with a score inside to trim Hiland’s lead to 20-18.
The dream was alive and well for FCA, but then the roof caved in as Hiland laid down the law, that law being a defense that has stunned and thwarted a great number of opponents this year.
What happened next was almost as unpredictable as an April blizzard as Hiland began blasting away at the Knights.
Breaking down the 44-3 Hawks’ run
Leading 20-18 in what had to that point been an incredibly close, well-fought game, Hiland simply went to work on both ends of the floor.
First, defensively Mark Schlabach put John Sisson on Colton Clark, who had gouged the Hawks with his penetration in the first half. If it weren’t for defensive wizard Andy Miller, who is one of the best on-ball defenders in the state, Sisson would get a lot more accolades for his defensive prowess.
Offensively it was a total team effort as Hiland came at Fairfield Christian Academy in waves, relentless, pounding waves, the kind that topple boats and pound the shoreline with a vengeance.
Kendal Hochstetler and Kobe Troyer hit threes, and Scott Troyer completed an and-one and knocked down an 18-footer to spot Hiland to a 31-18 halftime lead.
Things would only get worse for the Knights in the second half when they had no answer to the relentless pressure Hiland applied.
Kobe Troyer made sure of that by pouring in seven straight points as the Knights turned the ball over three straight times. Leading 38-18, Kobe Troyer hit a floater in the lane to make it nine straight points. Scott Troyer then scored when Kobe Troyer hit him with a perfect pass before the Knights finally found the bucket. Colten Sommers hit inside on a pass from Sisson, and after Nolan Blowers split two free throws, the Hawks went off on another 20-point run.
Sam Habeger scored five points, and Jared Raber nailed a trey to give Hiland a 52-21 lead through three periods. The onslaught continued well into the fourth quarter when Sisson kick-started it with an and-one and then ripped a 3-pointer. Damien Kandel hit two free throws, Kyle Miller knocked down a nice driving layup and Korrie Hostetler scored inside, completing Hiland’s impressive 44-3 splurge.
Coming into the game, Caleb Collins was averaging 21.2 points per contest for FCA. He is a prolific scorer, but chances are good he hasn’t faced the likes of Andy Miller this season. Miller and Hiland’s help defense limited the high-scoring Collins to just two points, forcing the Knights to find other avenues of scoring. However, it was a futile effort against the swarming Hiland defense.
Clark ended the night with six points, all of those coming in the game’s first 12 minutes.
Hiland was led in scoring by Kobe Troyer, who scored 15 points and eight rebounds. Hiland’s balanced scoring from there was impressive. Scott Troyer scored nine points; Sisson added eight; Hochstetler, Kandel and Habeger all added seven; Sommers scored four; and Kyle Miller and Hostetler each tacked on a pair.
Hiland shot a blistering 18-of-30 from inside the arc and connected on 6-of-18 three-pointers, adding an impressive 10-of-11 free throws to the mix. The Knights hit on just 6-of-18 two-pointers while adding 2-of-10 three-point shots and hitting 5-of-10 free throws. After turning the ball over early, the Hawks settled in offensively and only ended the night with eight turnovers while the Knights committed 18 miscues versus Hiland’s pressure.