Trailing Northside Christian by 16 points at halftime, the Hiland Hawks boys basketball team’s hopes of going to Dayton for the Div. IV State final four next week looked gloomy. At best.
Okay, it looked really unlikely the Hawks were going to clinch their 13th trip to the State final four.
Stud Lions’ forward Landon Vanderwarker was popping off in the first half leading Northside to a 27-11 halftime lead, the Hawks couldn’t knock down any shots in the first half and Mr. Momentum seemed to be all on the side of the Lions.
But, in the second half of the Div. IV regional final game on March 10 from The Convo in Athens, Hiland knew exactly what to do to pull off an epic comeback win.
Act like you’ve been there before.
And that’s exactly what they did.
The Hawks put up a astounding 41 second-half points and outscored the Lions 26-13 in the final quarter to seal a 52-50 comeback win.
A decisive start to the fourth quarter was key to the Hiland win as they came out firing with a 12-2 run to cut the Northside lead to 39-36. Hiland big man Alex Yoder led the charge scoring 10 of those 12 points during the surge.
Then, with 1:49 left to play in the game, senior Carson Habeger dipped to the dish for a smooth bucket that gave Hiland their first lead of the game 46-45. (Video Below)
🏆Regional Finals🏆— 330 Insiders (@330insiders) March 11, 2023
Carson Habeger gets the layup to give the hawks their first lead of the game, late in the fourth. pic.twitter.com/qMwlGVhJBU
Habeger’s layup capped off the comeback and junior guard Sammy Detweiler was as cool as the other side of the pillow hitting 4-for-4 from the free throw line to secure the win.
The Hawks’ ticket to Dayton was confirmed. And their tickets will have #comeback on them.
// THE LEADERS //
Leading the way in the scoring column for the state-bound Hawks was Yoder. He had another fantastic tournament game effort scoring 20 points and jerking down five boards. Detweiler went scoreless in the first half, but then found his groove in the second half dropping a total of 15 points. High-energy-man Habeger finished with 10 points and that aforementioned big bucket that finally gave Hiland the lead and their lead for good. Habeger also drew a charge in a keep moment during the comeback.
Vanderwarker led all scorers with 25 points in the regional final showcasing his mid-range game early and often. Vanderwarker also had a game-high 12 rebounds, putting up a fancy double-double. Sophomore Devontrel Jackson had 11 points and senior Diamauntae Jackson got to double digits with 10 points for the Lions.
// THE KEY FACTORS //
Key factors is such a generic phrase. How about we call them “Linchpin Points”. That’s better. We’ll leave the header above anyhow.
The number one linchpin point is… execution.
In the first half the Hawks looked out of sorts at times in their offensive sets. In the second half though, the offense got crisper and crisper and because of that Hiland got better shots. Mainly those shots came by getting Yoder in a good position to score in the paint.
Knowing they had to get a bunch points to get back in the game, Hiland also sped up the attack at certain junctions. Leading us to our second linchpin point.
Number two….. active hands.
Hiland put the Lions in full skittish mode with active hands on defense in the second half. Trip after trip down the floor on the defensive end Hiland was able to get their hands on the ball causing several turnovers in the third and giving them a chance to get back in the game.
Number three……no 3s for you. (said… or typed in Cosmo Kramer accent)
When was the last time a Hiland boys basketball team won a game and didn’t make a 3-pointer? Can someone even figure that out?
Well, who in the world knows when that last happened, but it happened on Friday night in Athens. The Hawks missed ever triple they hoisted up. When they knew it wasn’t going their way from deep, they dropped the ball in the post and took defenders off the dribble and got to the line.
You can go ahead and chalk that up to good coaching.
Number four……..rebounding. Here’s the quote from head coach Mark Schlabach about one of the changes the Hawks made at the half. ( Listen Below)
\\ BY THE QUARTER \\
Hiland trailed from the get go in the first quarter falling behind quickly 9-2 and the first quarter would end with the Hawks down 16-6.
Then the Hawks would score just five second quarter points while the Lions stomped out 11 giving Northside the 27-11 halftime lead.
Confirming just how crazy the fourth quarter was, Hiland still trailed after three quarters 37-24. The Hawks never cut the deficit to single digits until one of Yoder’s baskets with six minutes left in the fourth quarter made the score 39-31.
\\ WHAT’S NEXT \\
On January 28, the Hawks loss to Bishop Ready at the Battle at the Berkey 56-47. After the loss Hiland sported a record of 8-9. Now, after an 11-game winning streak, the Hawks are headed to Dayton with a 19-9 record.
Hiland will now face Convoy Crestview on Friday, March 17 in Dayton with tip-off at 5:15 p.m.
**Northside finishes their season 23-4.
**Bishop Ready will play in a Div. II regional final on Saturday night.