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Hiland falls to Div. II champs

Daily Record Sports Writer

WARSAW -- One defending state champion showed moxie and promise.

The other defending champ answered its coach's challenge and defended its home court.

River View, the Div. II state champions of a year ago and ranked No. 3 in the latest Div. II Associated Press rankings, opened an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter and held off back-to-back Div. IV title holder Hiland --emerging with a 48-43 victory Wednesday over the Hawks (14-4), ranked No. 3 in Div. IV.

"I told our seniors at halftime, 'I can't believe this is your next-to-last game on this floor and you're going to let Hiland come in here and outhustle you,'" said River View coach Caroline Daugherty, whose team improved to 18-1.  "They took that as a challenge, which they should have, and stepped it up."

Senior forward Kristin Daugherty, the coach's daughter and Ohio Player of the Year candidate, scored 27 points, including 12 in the final nine-plus minutes.  Sophomore sister Kari added 12 points, nine in the second half, as the Daughertys had a direct hand in all but five of River View's points.

The older Daugherty, a versatile 6-foot-1 ball handler and post threat headed to the University of Dayton, scored eight points during River View's 10-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters.

She (12-of-17 shooting) hit a pair of pull-up jumpers along the right baseline in the final 1:16 of the third, following with two putback hoops in the opening 1:20 of the fourth.  Brittany Bailey (team-high five rebounds) added another second-chance score in the first 75 seconds of the fourth as River View built what proved to be an insurmountable 39-28 edge.

"We gave a good team a three-minute run and it was over," Hiland coach Dave Schlabach said.  "The bottom line is we didn't have anyone who could handle (Kristin Daugherty).  Her ability to elevate and consistently knock down that six, eight, 10-foot jump shot is not something you see very often."

Hiland, led by Lydia Miller's 16 points and six rebounds, wasn't fazed.

Along with hitting 8-of-20 3-point attempts, including 4-of-5 during a key third-quarter stretch, the Hawks turned up the defensive pressure.  They forced River View into six of its 14 turnovers over the last 5 1/2 minutes of the game, racking up a 9-0 run of its own to close within 39-37 with 2:58 to play.

But Bailey scored another stickback hoop at 2:41 and Kristin Daugherty followed with an old-fashioned three-point shortly thereafter (1:36).  Hiland never got a shot to tie or take the lead at any point in the fourth quarter.

"Hiland has a lot of girls I've played AAU ball with.  I've played at coach Schlabach's indoor court and everyone across the state knows they have a great program." said Kristin Daugherty, who added four rebounds and three assists.  "It's a really good rivalry and a good win for us."

Miller did her part in trying to swing victory to Hiland's side.

The 5-8 senior and court general hit 4-of-5 first half shots. She scored nine points and pulled in five rebounds in the first 16 minutes, 14 1/2 of which Hiland led.

And when Miller went to the bench with four fouls in the final minute of the third, and didn't return until the six-minute mark of the fourth, River View pushed out.  Hiland had four of its five second-half turnovers in the stretch.

"I thought Lydia played as well as she has in her whole career tonight," Schlabach said.  "She kept us in it in the first half ... but eventually we needed our number five, six, seven or eight kid to step up.  We got that during our (fourth-quarter) run, but we continue to have troubles finding a way to finish off the big game."

Hiland, which finished 0-4 in its tough non-league schedule, picked up eight points, five rebounds and five assists from junior Jena Stutzman.  The All-Ohioan was only 3-of-13 from the floor, though, the Hawks were 16-of-41 as a team.

River View, which was outrebounded 26-23 despite a sizable size advantage, made 20-of-37 shots.  It was 13-of-19 in the second half.

"We had seen Hiland play several times, but I feel like we were back on our heels for some reason early on," coach Daugherty said.  "We were timid in that first half, but the kids responded.  We did have some uncharacteristic turnovers, but what a great atmosphere."

The mood was certainly one of a tournament setting.  Part of the reason both coaches felt, win or lose, that it would be beneficial to play in February.

"Every quality game we get is a valuable one.  So for it to work out that we got them during our last week of the season, what more can we ask for?" Schlabach said.  "This made us better, more prepared for the tournament."

Courtesy The Daily Record, Wooster, Ohio

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