Meadowbrook- Division IV East District Finals. An atmosphere that every kid dreams of. In front of a packed crowd Friday night the hawks were able to do enough to survive a tough River team that outrebounded them 31-27.
River (20-4) came into this game as the favorite after receiving the one seed and Hiland (16-9) a three seed. River was riding high off a big win over Strasburg in the semi-finals and Hiland a come from behind victory over Bede Lori and Caldwell. When the lights are bright Hiland always seems to play their best as they gutted out a 56-54 victory to take home their SEVENTH district finals title in a row. That’s right seven in a row. The hawks have always found themselves in tough spots and always seem to pull off the impossible ( see last years Hiland tournament run).
First Quarter – Hiland came out of the game firing on all cylinders with Sammy Detweiler playing a huge role. Detweiler drilled an early three and got an and one layup. With Hiland’s defense suffocating River and holding them to three first quarter points, freshman Alex Miller threw in a wild bank three pointer to end the quarter at 18-3 Hiland.
Second Quarter – The period would not go much better for the pilots but they finally got some shots to fall. A couple offensive rebounds lead to layups for River. Detweiler again was clutch with a three pointer and some tough contested mid range shots. Hiland 28-12 at the intermission.
Third Quarter – Hiland again dominated this quarter with big time plays on the defensive side and again outscored River in the quarter. Another Detweiler put back gave the hawks a 16 point lead midway through the period. Isaly would then drain a three off an inbounds play to cut it back to 13. Sophmore Nick Wigton cashed in a three pointer and put this game at 42-27 Hiland lead after three.
Fourth Quarter- The pilots started the quarter off with Isaly taking a charge on Senior Carson Habeger. The Junior then stole an inbounds pass and turned it into a quick three points off a layup and one. With River needing some baskets quick they turned up the pressure and went full court trap which turned out to be a very smart move as they turned over the hawks five times in less than two minutes to cut the lead to six with four minutes to play. Wigton got the long ball off a failed full court trap and buried a three extending it back to nine. Two more Hiland turnover and River scores made it a four point game. Habeger would be called for his fifth foul and have to sit out the last three minutes. Wigton showed up again with an offensive rebound put-back on a Detweiler miss. Isaly would not be finished yet as he drilled a deep three and then came back in transition and hit another one. Two point lead for the reigning champs Hiland with 27 seconds left. Detweiler missed the front end of a one and one. Pilot’s hero Isaly again came up clutch as he was fouled with seven seconds left and hit both free throws and all tied up at 54 a piece. Hiland needing a big play called time out to draw up a play. You probably guessed who they got the ball to (Detweiler). He took it the length of the court before being fouled and in the bonus he went back to the line. Sank both from the charity stripe for a two point edge. River inbounded to Isaly who put up a nice looking step-back three at the buzzer but rimmed out. Hiland wins 56-54. Hiland was outscored 27-14 in the last quarter.
Hiland who struggled early in the year suffered multiple losses and things were not looking good. This team has rallied around each other and found a new energy late in the season. One thing is always true about Hiland teams, head coach Mark Schlabach and assistant Paul Zaccour will have their kids ready to play come tournament time as we now see for the seventh year in a row. A year in which many expected to be a down year for Hiland after losing five seniors and a year that was supposed to be River’s year turned out to be another average year for the hawks in which they won a district title. It just means more in Berlin and standards are different in that program than other places. All the credit to the coaching staff and the players.
Scoring for Hiland was Sammy Detweiler with 22 points, Nick Wigton had eight points, Alex Yoder and Carson Habeger both chipped in seven.
Scoring for River was Kabel Isaly with 24 points and Ty Long with nine points.
Hiland advances to the regionals where they will play Federal Hocking (21-3) in the regional semi-finals. The game will be Tuesday March 7th at 8pm. The site will be at Ohio University Convocation Center or otherwise known as basketball:30.
Congrats to Hiland on yet another District Finals win.