Hiland learned a lot about itself after the season-opening loss to Twinsburg.
One of the things the Hawks learned was how to handle pressure. Another was how to finish. Against Inter-Valley Conference foe Strasburg Wednesday night, the Hawks applied both their lessons and turned back the Tigers 48-32.
"The Twinsburg game really helped us," Hiland coach Dave Schlabach said. "We went back after the game and watched a lot of tape. We talked about handling pressure. They showed out weakness and we had a chance to work on it. We stayed poised, for the most part.
"I'm not sure we'd have handled their pressure as well if we didn't pay Twinsburg," the coach continued. "We made some adjustments, talked about what we needed to do."
Regina Hochstetler was the lone Hiland player in double figures, pumping in 14 points. The junior hit a trio of 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter that extended Hiland's lead back out to 10 after the Tigers trimmed the lead to four moments earlier.
The Hawks led 16-10 after the opening eight minutes of action, with six different players scoring. They were ahead 27-18 at the half.
Jasmine Goings scored inside to give the Hawks a 33-23 lead, but Strasburg answered with back-to-back triples by Stephanie Schuster (12 points) and Mackenzie Colombo (10 points), that pulled the Tigers back to within 33-29 with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Goings, who finished with eight points, split a pair of free throws to slow the Strasburg run. Hochstetler hit a jumper and then drilled a 3-pointer as time expired in the third to give Hiland a 39-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
"Regina hit a couple big shots for us," Schlabach said. "That pull-up jumper and then the 3 at the end of the quarter, that was big. She was disappointed that she missed the game-winner at Twinsburg. She's anxious to shoot another one some day."
Hochstetler tacked on another triple in the fourth quarter, answering a bomb from Colombo. Those three points were the only three Strasburg would score in the final frame.
Kendra Schlabach dialed up long distance in the fourth quarter. The senior finished with eight points. Emily Yoder iced things down the stretch with a pair of free throws.
"We're a very balanced team this year. We played a lot of kids in different rotations," Schlabach said. "I feel 3-through-12 we're really similar. If someone's making a few plays, they're going to get a few more minutes. We got good extra production from Sasha Goings (four points).
"Strasburg's a good team. We feel really good about this win," the coach continued. "It's a big win, a conference game on the road. That's a quality win. We'll take it."
The loss was the first of the season for the Tigers (1-1, 0-1).
"Tonight was an eye-opener for the girls," Strasburg coach Benton Bonanno said. "We've got to pick it up and do a better job when we get on a roll like we did in the third quarter. That's on me. We've got to have the girls better prepared so that when something gets said, it gets done right away."
"The crowd was getting up. The bench was getting into it," the Tiger coach continued. "But Hiland's a good team. They're not going to let that happen. We've got to do a better job of making sure that happens."