After a one year absence from the girls basketball state tournament, guess who’s headed back?
If you actually asked that question to a rabid girls basketball fan in Ohio, they’d probably know the answer.
If they don’t know the answer, one would think their first guess would be Berlin Hiland.
And they’d be correct.
For the fourth time in the last five years the Hiland girls basketball team is headed back to Dayton for the OHSAA Div. IV state final four.
Hiland already owns the state record for number of trips to the state final four with 18. On Saturday, March 4 they padded their record making it 19 with a 53-43 win over Portsmouth Notre Dame.
The Hawks (22-6) will now scurry down to Dayton University on Thursday, March 9 to play Tri-Village in the Div. IV state semi-final at 8 p.m. Tri-Village, the number one ranked team in Div. IV, squeaked past Fort Loramie in their regional final 32-30.
Leading the way for the Hawks was Ashley Mullet who scored a game-high 23 points including six clutch free throws down the stretch in the fourth quarter. One could say freshman Evie Mast was plenty warmed up for this one as she went a sizzling 5-for-5 from the 3-point line for all her 15 points.
Junior Mallory Stutzman finished with nine points and sophomore Joplin Yoder added six.
Let’s break it down a bit.
“THE EVIE MAST GAME”
Ten years from now, heck 30 years from now, this game will be referred to as the “Evie Mast Game”. It’s so eastern Holmes-county-like to nickname people and events. This is no different. The frosh not only hit all five of her trifectas she chucked at the tin, she nailed them at crucial junctions of the game.
Trailing 15-18 in the second quarter, Mast hit her first three to tie things back up at 18 a piece. This was a big one because it stopped a Titans’ 6-0 run at the beginning of the second period.
Gracie Ashley, who led the Titans in scoring with 16 points, put her team back up 20-18 on the next possession. Mast immediately answered with her second three of the night and Hiland re-took the lead instantly 21-20. Hiland would never trail after Mast put them back up 21-20.
Mast hit her third triple right before the horn sounded to end the third quarter that gave Hiland their biggest lead of 12, making it 41-29 after three.
Then to bring it full circle she hit a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to keep the Hawks lead hovering around 12 points.
“BY THE QUARTER”
The Hawks skipped out to a 8-4 lead in the first period on two Mullet 3-pointers and a bucket in the lane by Stutzman. The Titans answered however with Annie Detwiller picking up the torch and scoring a basket and Kamryn Bradford knocked down a three to give Portsmouth a 12-10 lead late in the first. Hiland’s Joplin Yoder would get a pair of baskets in the paint at the end of the quarter and things were knotted at 12-12 after one.
A Bradford free throw and an Ashley floater gave the Titans their only short-lived lead of the contest 18-15 midway through the second quarter. That’s when Mast struck with her hot shooting to give Hiland right back the lead. Hiland would lead at the break 25-22.
Out of the break a pair of Stutzman slashes to the hoop equaled two made baskets and Hiland extended their three point halftime lead up to 29-22 in a flash.
In the fourth, Portsmouth would nip at the lead a bit scoring two baskets on their first two possessions. Detwiller got a deuce and Ashley got a layup to cut Hiland’s lead to 41-33 right out of the gate of the final stanza. And that’s when, you guessed it, Mast hit her back-to-back buckets from downtown to push the Hawks right back out to a 12 point lead at 47-35.
You watched hockey? Yeah, most people don’t. Ehhhhh, that’s okay. We love to educate you here at 330insiders.com. In the sport there are players known as “enforcers”. These players usually don’t find their names in the scoring column, but hammer around the rink doing things that help their teams earn ‘W’s.
That leads us to Hiland’s Kate Kaufman and Abbie Miller. While they didn’t score points, the plethora of big plays they made in Saturday’s win do not go unnoticed. In what some are saying was a very physical game it made the presence of these two unsung heroes even more decisive to the Hawks’ win.
With Saturday’s win that makes it 14 straight wins for the Hawks. You can say they’re on a bit of a run heading to Dayton. Hiland has not loss since Jan. 14 which was the first day of the Classic in the Country when they fell to Crestview 48-40.
Follow us next Thursday on Twitter ( @330insiders.com ) for game updates.