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IVC streak snapped at 94

Daily Record Sports Writer

BERLIN -- The Hiland girls basketball team ran out of the gate Thursday night and had a chance to put another Inter-Valley Conference championship on the board with Garaway at the Perry Reese Jr. Community Center.

Hiland led 21-11 after Jena Stutzman's layup to start the second half and because it was Hiland at home in the IVC, a win seemed natural.

To everyone but Garaway, at least.

The Pirates closed by allowing just nine points the rest of the game, including a shutout of the top-ranked Hawks in overtime, and pulled even in the IVC standings with a 39-30 victory.

Hiland, ranked No. 1 in the latest Div. IV Associated Press State poll, had its 94-game IVC win streak snapped.

"We turned the ball over late in the game and we didn't execute the way we need to against good teams," Hiland coach Dave Schlabach said. "We're a good team if our 10 kids fill their roles. But, we didn't execute and we didn't rebound nearly well enough. We just need our kids to fill their roles when we see good people."

Hiland (11-1, 9-1 IVC) will still likely win a share of its 13th consecutive conference title. No other school in the league has come close to the Hawks or Garaway, so the conference title looks like it will be shared.

That is largely because of the play of Garaway senior Laura Bardall, who took every one of her team's shots in the first quarter and finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. She also hit six of the Pirates' nine free throws in overtime.

But, as good as Bardall was, the game wouldn't have seen overtime if not for a 3-pointer with 1:28 left from sophomore Kristin Troyer that tied the game at 30. It was the first time Garaway (11-1, 9-1), which didn't lead in regulation, had tied the game since it was 6-6 in the first quarter.

That play was indicative of what normally wins the Hiland-Garaway games. Someone steps up from the supporting casts and makes a play to propel the team, which has been Hiland pretty consistently for the last decade, to a victory. Troyer also had three free throws and was one of just four Garaway players to score.

"She didn't play particularly well at the offensive end most of the night," Garaway coach Scott Bardall said. "But that was a part of playing with strong virtue. You play with the confidence to do again and again what you know you can do, even if you're struggling."

Hiland struggled offensively in the second half, but saw the wheels fall off in the fourth quarter. Kristi Yoder scored on her only shot from the floor to give the Hawks a 29-24 lead and, for a moment, stop Garaway's momentum. But, Laura Bardall's 3-point play got Garaway going again and the Pirates didn't allow Hiland another basket.

The result was a good night at the defensive end -- Garaway shot just 13-of-31 for the night and had 30 points before overtime -- which went for naught because the Hawks couldn't get the ball in the basket.

"I kept shaking my head when we were turning the ball over and taking bad shots," Schlabach said. "When you give up 30 points in a game, you should be able to win. We spoiled a good effort on the defensive end tonight."

For Garaway, which had no one on the floor who had beaten Hiland, the win was something special.

Scott Bardall said he and his players understood before taking the floor that win or lose, the Hiland game was just one of the 20 on the schedule. A win, he said, doesn't do his team much good once the tournament arrives.

Still, from the applause everyone from the players and coaches to ball girls and trainers got coming out of the lockerroom, the win meant more to Garaway than the other 10 this season.

"It's much better to come out on this end than the other seven times we played them," Laura Bardall said. "I've never beaten them before. It's a good win for us. But, on the other hand, it's just another game."

For Hiland, it's more than just one game. The Hawks and Pirates don't see many challenges because of the quality of the IVC programs. This loss has a good chance to stick around for a while. That's the way Schlabach wants it.

"This needs to hurt," Schlabach said. "It has to be some kind of motivating factor going forward. Garaway played well and had a great game plan. They just out-efforted us."

Jena Stutzman's 10 points led the Hawks. Gabby Fowler had five and no other players scored more than three points.

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