The new-look Hiland Hawks were unveiled on the road in the Wigwam at Coshocton Saturday night and the result was very familiar, as the Hawks posted a 47-32 triumph over the Redskins.
After riding the Dylan Kaufman Express to nearly 100 wins and two state titles over the past four seasons, Hiland features a team of one senior and minimal experience.
Yet when those players don the red, white and black uniforms of Hiland High School, even the youngest birds take flight.
Hiland played defense with the same intensity as ever, as the scoreless second period would indicate.
And Hiland's players have never been shy about shooting.
Freshman Brady Schlabach stroked three 3-pointers and teamed with Todd Ropp to lead the Hawks with 11 points apiece, while six different players scored for the balanced Hiland attack.
But the tale of this game was the second period.
"The second quarter, defensively, I thought we did a great job," said Hiland coach Mark Schlabach. "We made some shots and it actually looked like we had some flow to our game. That was the game. The second quarter was the game."
Coshocton led 11-10 after the first quarter, scoring twice on wide open back-door cuts.
The Hawks slammed that door shut in the second period.
Brennan Coil (eight points) scored inside on the opening possession of the period to give Hiland a 12-11 lead and the Hawks never looked back.
Hiland picked up its defensive intensity and held Coshocton scoreless until the second half.
After Coshocton (1-1) missed two triple tries, Jordan Yoder didn't at the other end and Hiland led 15-11. A driving layup by Eric Miller off a missed 3-point attempt by Coshocton and the Hawks led 17-11.
Schlabach stroked his second 3-pointer of the first half to give the Hawks a 20-11 lead early in the second quarter.
A steal and a nifty no-look pass by Schlabach to Coil led to another Hiland score.
A three-point play by Miller and a stickback by Yoder had the Hawks up 28-11 at the break.
The Redskins went 0-for-7 from the field, 0-for-1 from the foul line and turned the ball over four times in the second quarter.
Things didn't go quite so well in the third quarter, but Hiland maintained an 11-point lead into the final frame.
"It's hard for a young team, it's hard for any team, to learn to put teams away," Schlabach said. "We got really stagnant offensively in the third quarter. Fortunately, for us, I don't think Coshocton played its best game."
The Redskins were coming off a 30-point win on Friday night and looked a bit sluggish, while Hiland had its youthful buoyancy.
"We feel we're pretty balanced. We've got seven guys who can lead us in scoring," Schlabach said. "And once the scouting report gets out on Brady, he won't get so many open looks. But he showed tonight what he's capable of doing."
The Hawks turned the ball over 21 times, most of those coming in the second half against hard man pressure by the Redskins.
"We've done OK against zone pressure in scrimmages," Schlabach said. "That type of man pressure we struggled with a bit. We've just got to be more confident in what we're doing. And learn to put people away. We have to attack instead of being passive. A lot of our turnovers were passive type turnovers."
Curtis Blake kept Coshocton in the game, drilling four 3-pointers and leading all scorers with 18 points. The Redskins only had three players score. Tanner Cognion added 12.
Miller and Yoder finished with seven points apiece to help Hiland's attack.
The Hawks won the battle of the boards 28-16, with Ropp ripping down seven rebounds and Yoder and Coil each grabbing six.
"We win, that's a good thing for these kids," Schlabach said. "We need to learn how to win. For those guys in that locker room, that's the first time where they've won after a varsity game. Any win for this group early in the year, we're going to let our kids feel good about it, because they need to build their confidence and learn that they can win."