The Inter-Valley Conference girls basketball chase has been about as regular as Big Ben and Old Faithful over the past two decades.
Hiland and Garaway have pretty consistently fought for the top spot, with Hiland having grabbed a piece of the IVC title every year over the past 19 seasons.
This year there are a couple of new teams who seem more than ready to knock down that wall to take their place atop the league standings.
While Hiland still rules the league, undefeated at 8-0 in the league after polishing off East Canton 60-42 in a game which was closer than most thought it might be, the Lady Pirates felt the sting of one of those IVC challengers Wednesday, Jan. 7 when Ridgewood dealt them a 49-43 loss, sincerely hampering their quest to unseat Hiland, which had defeated them earlier this year.
Coupled with a talented Malvern squad, which nearly upended Garaway earlier this season, the IVC has been a hotbed of activity at the top this year. In the first contest between Hiland and Garaway, that one went right down to the wire before Hiland pulled out a win.
In a key IVC contest which held plenty of drama Jan. 7, the Generals kept themselves tied with Hiland in the loss column with a bright, sparkly zero, their perfect 7-0 IVC mark setting up a showdown of enormous proportions Saturday, Jan. 10 at the Reese Center in Berlin.
Ridgewood, undefeated overall at 11-0, led the Lady Pirates 12-7 after one quarter, but Garaway, which dropped to 5-2 in the league and 7-3 overall, took a 22-18 lead into the half. In years past, Ridgewood may have folded up their tent and left town, but this Generals team is big and talented, and came out roaring in the second half. Ridgewood took it to Garaway in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Pirates 11-4 to take a 29-26 advantage. Garaway simply couldn’t stop the Generals down the stretch, Ridgewood hanging on for the monumental win. Audrey Tingle scored 15 points for the Generals and Amanda Lowery added 12. Kendra Miller paced the Lady Pirates with a 12 point, 11 rebound effort and Izzy Meese added 10 points for Garaway.
Meanwhile, East Canton was busy giving Hiland everything it wanted. Many people were set for Hiland to blow the Hornets away, but East Canton found its groove on offense, making a game of it.
While the Lady Hawks were never challenged, it was anything but business as usual for Hiland.
The Lady Hawks came out firing, scoring 20 in the first quarter, but East Canton managed 11, despite Hiland’s pressure defense. Hiland pushed out to a 34-18 halftime lead, but the second half saw the Hornet fall behind by only two more points as East Canton continued to find success at the rim.
Neither team shot particularly well, Hiland hitting 23-of-67, with East Canton connecting on 14-of-42 action shots. However, both teams found plenty of second-chance points, Hiland grabbing a whopping 22 offensive rebounds and the Hornets hauling down 16 of their own misses.
Megan Beachy was spot on for the game, hitting 4-of-6 threes en route to a 20 point night. She added six rebounds, to tie Rachel Horn for that honor. Kennedy Schlabach added 111 points for Hiland, but hit on just 3-of-10 trey attempts. Angela Troyer added nine points, with Sabrina Miller chipping in with six.
By improving to 10-0, the Lady Hawks set up a classic midseason showdown between two undefeated IVC foes.
It just isn’t the two undefeated foes most people are used to seeing at this juncture.