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WH girls reclaim bragging rights

Daily Record Sports Writer

BERLIN -- A game against the Hiland girls basketball team is big for anyone.

But for West Holmes, a team that has been beaten by its cross county rivals each of the last three seasons, this is more than just a contest against the two-time defending Div. IV champion. It's a chance for bragging rights.

Well, the Knights will get to brag for the first time since Feb. 3, 2003, after a 54-47 win in front of a raucous crowd at the Reese Center Saturday.

"We needed the whole team, top to bottom, with everyone contributing," said West Holmes coach Lisa Patterson, whose team moved to 6-4 with the win. "We needed everyone contributing, all 13 players, not just five, to do what we did tonight."

That was never more evident than early in the first quarter. With the Knights down 9-5 midway through, guard Markie McDowell went to the bench with her second foul. The senior had gone to the bench with foul trouble before with mostly negative results for the Knights.

Just not this time.

The Knights responded by slapping on the defensive pressure and taking advantage of openings in Hiland's defense.

They eventually took a lead by the end of the first quarter and by the time McDowell came back in to start the second, the rout was on.

The Knights went on a 13-0 run over the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter and distanced themselves from Hiland. They held the Hawks scoreless for 7:16 and got the lead necessary for bumping off the champs at home.

"That was huge in the first quarter," Patterson said. "Markie got those two fouls and I thought 'Oh boy,' she's definitely our team leader.

"But the younger kids stepped up."

Those step-up games came from sophomore posts Kerri Airwyke (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Sarah Hammond (10 points, three blocks, four rebounds) and junior wing Mallory Arnold, who finished with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting that included a 3-of-4 night from downtown.

Although they went in with a 14-point halftime lead, the Knights knew they weren't out of the woods yet.

"At half time we talked about how we knew they were going to come back," Arnold said. "They always do."

The Hawks didn't disappoint.

They just didn't come back the whole way.

They started the half by setting sharpshooter Jena Stutzman up with three open 3s and came away with nothing.

It was the story of the game for the Hawks, a team that seemed always a play away from taking over.

Whether it was a Stutzman 3 in the third quarter that cut the deficit to nine or a Karli Mast trifecta that brought the Hawks within five in the fourth, the Hawks never seemed able to capitalize on momentum.

A lot of that was due to West Holmes.

"Every time we had a little run," Hiland coach Dave Schlabach said, "they'd answer with an offensive rebound."

West Holmes never allowed Hiland to get any closer than four down the stretch.

The Hawks got 15 out of Stutzman, who finished an uncharacteristic 5-of-21 from the floor. Senior Lydia Miller also tallied 15.

Despite their efforts, they were never able to slow down West Holmes.

"West Holmes came to play," Schlabach said. 'They played with a lot more energy and confidence than we did early."

That's just the sort of thing teams tend to do against rivals. And that's the sort of thing every team tends to do against Hiland.

"For us, every game is the next game," Schlabach said. "But the kids need to understand that most teams probably circle this one on the calendar.

"We need quality wins, this would've been a quality win but we let it slip away."

Fortunately for a year's worth of bragging rights, the Knights didn't.

Courtesy The Daily Record, Wooster, Ohio

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