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WOOSTER -- It truly was, as Northwestern coach Mark Alberts Jr. said afterward, a tale of two halves in the fourth and final game of the WQKT-Steve Smith Holiday Hoops Classic Saturday, Dec. 17 between his Huskies and Hiland.
The first half belonged to Northwestern, but the Hawks turned it on in the third quarter. They caught and overtook the Huskies, then gradually built a lead and pulled away for a 64-52 victory at The College of Wooster's Timken Gym.
Playing for the first time in eight days, Hiland (4-0) fell behind 10-1 and trailed the entire first half. But the Hawks scored on their first 10 possessions of the third quarter, including a spurt of three consecutive 3-pointers by Andy Miller, Turner Horn and Kobe Troyer, to turn a 26-22 halftime deficit into a 43-35 lead.
Horn, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half, and Troyer, who matched that with 14 of his own, drilled back-to-back 3s early in the fourth quarter after Northwestern got with 46-42, and Troyer's fourth make from behind the arc gave Hiland a double-digit lead it maintained to the finish.
"I thought we played OK in the first half, but we didn't compete hard enough to beat a team like that," said Hiland coach Mark Schlabach, whose team scored 42 second-half points, shooting 55 percent from the field, including 6 of 11 3-pointers, and going 14 of 18 at the foul line.
"We were stagnant and didn't play with good flow in the first half, and we thought if we could get some flow in the second half -- we obviously needed to get Turner going, he had zero at the half and that was one of the things we wanted to focus on in the second half. This team has that ability with Turner, Kobe, Scott (Troyer), and Chris (Kline) when he's making his plays, and Noah Summers had his best game of the year, just a phenomenal effort from him."
Summers, Hiland's "big" man at 6-foot-3, was the third Hawk scorer in double figures with 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting.
At the other end of the floor, his assignment was Northwestern's 6-9 Derek Koch. Koch scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, but while six of his teammates scored in the first half, they combined for just 10 points in the second.
"I thought our post guys did a good job and then I look at the stat line and Koch's got 23 and 18. That's unbelievable," Schlabach said. "What we did a better job of in the second half is the other guys didn't get the easy ones they got in the first half. We made some adjustments and were able to defend them a little better."
Koch also yanked down 18 rebounds, just four fewer than Hiland's team. Derek Darnall was next with just seven points, and while the two Husky big men combined to shoot 12 for 17, the rest of the team went 6 of 22 from the floor.
Friday night, Northwestern won an important Wayne County Athletic League road game at Dalton. While they kept up the momentum in the first half against Hiland, Alberts didn't think there was enough left in the tank to handle the Hawks down the stretch.
"We had great energy in the first half," he said. "We're up four at halftime, and I don't want to say we ran out of gas, but you could tell their energy really increased and that's kind of been our Achilles' heel, not playing with the same intensity we need. Last night, we didn't have that problem.
"Give them some credit, they started knocking in some shots, too, but they really picked up their intensity level and we didn't match it as much as we needed to. We competed, but not at the level we needed to do for the 32."
Sports writer Mike Plant can be reached at 330-287-1649, or at email@example.com