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BERLIN -- Thanks to the Eastern District's new tournament format, the Hiland Hawks were able to host their first tournament game Friday night.
The second-seded Hawks did not disappoint the faithful fans at the Perry Reese Jr. Community Center, showcasing their plethora of talented guards on the shellshocked Shamrocks in bombing Barnesville 78-15 in a Div. III East 2 District sectional final.
Hiland (19-4) had 12 players in the scorer's book, while the 5-18 Shamrocks managed just seven field goals for the game, turning it over a whopping 28 times, including 11 of those miscues in the first quarter when the Hawks soared out to a 22-0 lead and never looked back. The Hawks were up 27-0 with just under six minutes to play in the first half before Barnesville finally scored, on a stickback of an errant 3-point attempt.
"This was the first-ever home tournament game. We had to come out and play like it," Hiland coach Mark Schlabach said. "I thought our kids were focussed and played well."
Eight different players scored for the Hawks by halftime as the lead ballooned to 46-7. Kobe Troyer swished three of his five 3-pointers in the first half to lead the Hiland assault. All 15 of Troyer's points came from long range.
Chris Kline came off the pine to score 14 for the Hawks, using his blazing fast feet and equally quick hands to steal three passes and score on a variety of fast-break layups.
Kendall Hochstetler tossed in a couple long-range bombs as well, finishing with 10 points. Turner Horn and Scott Troyer each added eight points and Noah Sommers scored six to go with a team-high 10 rebounds.
It was a game that left Schlabach scratching his head.
"Not too long ago, that team scored 85 points against Conotton Valley," Schlabach said. "I saw them score 56 points in a half when I scouted them. Luke Powell leads their area in scoring.
"Our guys take challenges in things like that," the coach continued. "We challenged Andy Miller to shut him down."
Powell led the Shamrocks with five points.
"Sometimes I forget how good our guards are," Schlabach said. "When the other team's better players are guards, we have an easier time matching up with them. And our guys were ready to go tonight."
Hiland dominated every aspect of the contest, hitting 11 3-pointers to one of 10 triple tries by Barnesville and winning the battle of the boards 29-20.
The Hawks got a little sloppy with the ball, coughing it up 11 times.
"Defensively, I thought we were great early on, but offensively, we were a little stagnant, we call it 'sticky' with the ball, but then we finished playing very unselfishly the rest of the game," Schlabach said.
"We brought in some tough alumni guys for scrimmages and some hard practices, it was nice for them to see somebody different," he added.
Hiland advances to play West Muskingum, which defeated Harrison Central 57-56, on Tuesday in a district semifinal at a site to be determined.