· Basketball - Holmes County ·

Third quarter becomes key to Hawk’s 64-44 win over Knights

Kobe Troyer had the hot hand and the Hawks roll over the Knights 64-44

For 16 minutes, host West Holmes Knights gave the invading Hiland Hawks all they could handle. Then that nasty third quarter reared its ugly head, the Hawks went on a gigantic run, and the game was all but over, as Hiland (10-2) pulled away to a 64-44 victory January 10.

The third quarter again proved to be the Knights’ undoing, and it has become a trend that has haunted Keith Troyer’s club all season long on its way to a winless start through the first half of the season.

“We really tried to emphasize at half-time that third quarter and how important it is,” Troyer said. “And we came out flat. I’m not sure what it is going to take to have a good third quarter. Our third quarter all year has been bad, and we need to figure out a way to get some energy coming out of the half.”

The first quarter was all good news for West Holmes, as the Knights took a 13-10 lead through one. Actually, the first six-plus minutes of the game were more of a mano-a-mano contest between Hiland’s Kobe Troyer and West Holmes’ Blaine Hager. For more than two minutes neither team found the rim, but Troyer finally broke the scoreless tie with a score inside on a great pass from Noah Sommers. Hager responded with a 3-pointer, and Troyer answered in kind. Hager went down and canned another trey, and again Troyer responded with one of his own. Hager took a different route on the next trip down the floor, slashing down the lane for a score, and Troyer went inside and was fouled, making both free throws to give Hiland a 10-8 edge.

The Troyer v. Hager contest finally ended when West Holmes guard Chance Wells bombed home a triple to give the Knights an 11-10 advantage, and after a stop, Trenton Bridenthal found Hager cutting along the baseline on a beautiful back-door pass to give the Knights their 13-10 lead through one.

Hager would not score again in the second quarter, but Troyer would stay red-hot as Hiland would inch ahead. Troyer struggled mightily in the Hawk’s prior game against Garaway, and he was not going to have a repeat of that performance.

“He was in the gym ever since Friday, and he’s taken a lot of shots, because he was disappointed with the way he shot the ball in our last outing,” Hiland coach Mark Schlabach said. If practice makes perfect, Troyer was very close, and his five 3-pointers 19 points on the night would lead all scorers.

Once Troyer got rolling, his teammates seemed to find him for open looks.

“I think our guys are doing probably the best job in years at finding the hot shooter,” Schlabach said. “Once he hit a couple we were really trying to find him, and we called a couple of things for him and executed well.”

Turner Horn scored inside, and after Chase Wells hit two free throws, Hiland took a lead when Scott Troyer hit a jumper and Kobe Troyer rained down from long range again for a 17-15 Hawks lead. Connor Roach hit on a stick-back and Josh Goudy scored in the paint to give the Knights a momentary 19-17 lead, but Hiland then went on an 8-0 run that began with another Kobe Troyer trey and ended when Horn hit two free throws for a 25-19 Hiland edge. After Chance Wells hit another triple, Andy Miller gave the Hawks a 28-22 half-time lead by draining a corner 3-pointer.

Then the wheels simply fell off for West Holmes, when Hiland came out of the locker room and went on a scintillating 20-4 run that seemed to happen in a heartbeat.

“Confidence is a mental thing, and I was worried how we would come out with that confidence, and I thought we played very confidently offensively,” Schlabach said.

Miller scored to begin the third quarter, and after Chance Wells scored inside, Kobe Troyer and Scott Troyer both connected on three-balls, Horn scored twice, Chris Kline scored twice and Miller capped the run with a drive to make it 48-26. Just like that, a tight game had been blown wide open.

“It’s possessions,” Troyer said of the struggles in the second half. “We have to play an almost perfect game to win, and I thought we played well for a half, then we took some bad shots, had a few key unforced turnovers and we can’t expect to do that and win.”

Hager would hit a three, Bridenthal would connect on two free throws and Hager would end the third quarter when Brayden Chaney made a great play, finding Hager in the corner, and the senior got a quick rainbow off that found nothing but net to make it 51-34 heading into the fourth.

“We focused a lot better at the defensive end,” Schlabach said of his team’s big third quarter. “We got a lot of consecutive stops, and West Holmes is a lot better than their record shows. They’ve got good guards and they showed that in the first half, but I felt like we kind of wore them down a bit and that third quarter we played pretty well.”

Schlabach said the biggest change was that his defenders finally got their hands up in the face of West Holmes’ shooters, and they amped up the pressure on the ball defensively. He also noted that they wanted to create some better looks, something that he felt they did a good job of throughout the second half.

However, the damage had been done, and just to make sure the Knights didn’t entertain any comeback ideas, Hiland reeled off the first eight points of the fourth quarter, getting four points from Horn and two apiece from Sommers and Claye Hummel.

Troyer said that they knew coming in that Hiland’s guard tandem was relentless in defending on the ball, and Hiland’s pressure did eventually wear them down.

“We knew their guards are really quick and they handle the ball well, and offensively they do a really nice job of running their offense against the man,” Troyer said. “I thought our zone worked fairly well, but we had a couple of times when Kobe got open and he knocked them down. He hit them and when we had to get out of our zone, they hurt us.”

Troyer said while they remained winless, he liked the overall effort his team gave. He said they haven’t stopped working hard and giving great effort, which was the one positive he has seen the past couple of games.

“They keep working hard, and eventually it will pay off,” Troyer said. “If we keep our attitude right, eventually it will pay off.”

Aside from Kobe Troyer’s huge night, Hiland got 14 points from Horn, eight from Miller, seven from Kline and five from Scott Troyer and Hummel, while Sommers, Damian Kandel and Jared Raber all scored a pair. West Holmes was paced by Hager’s 19 points, including five threes, while Chance Wells added eight, Chase Wells scored seven, Roach added four and Goudy, Bridenthal and Shane Jones each scored two.

Hiland won the rebounding battle 28-18, led by Horn’s six, while Hager led the knights with four. Chase Wells added four assists and three steals for the Knights, while doled out four assists for Hiland.

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