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Strasburg slows down Hiland, but Hawks still win

Daily Record Sports Writer

BERLIN -- Strasburg scrapped, slowed the game down with a zone defense and was physical Saturday night against the Hiland girls basketball team.

That was effective enough, but it still turned out to be a typical night in the Inter-Valley Conference for the Hawks.

Kristi Yoder was perfect from the floor and scored 13 points with six rebounds, Jena Stutzman had 12 points, seven assists and seven steals as Hiland celebrated Senior Night with a 50-23 win over the Tigers at the Perry Reese Jr. Community Center. The victory clinched a share of the IVC title with Garaway. The Hawks will head to Thursday's sectional game at 19-1.

"This was a good, competitive game and we knew Strasburg would give us that," Hiland coach Dave Schlabach said. "Every possession was difficult against them. Strasburg is one of the few teams that plays us physical like that. This was a good physical battle. It was a good game for us."

Strasburg coach Chad Bonifant, whose team is the second seed in the Uhrichsville Sectional, was happy with most of what his team was able to do Saturday.

The Tigers made Hiland earn most of its offense, forcing the Hawks to be patient with a full-court press and a 1-2-2 zone designed to take away the 3-point shot. The Hawks had just 25 points at halftime and were in a tight game respective to the rest of the non-Garaway games in the IVC at the half.

The Hawks were just 17-of-41 from the floor and 4-of-15 from 3-point range. But, that defensive effort went for naught because Strasburg couldn't get the ball in the hoop either. The Tigers were just 9-for-31 and had no player score more than Carly Clark's five points.

"Against a team like this, you have to make shots," Bonifant said. "I'm happy with what our kids did. We threw a wrench at them and I think it was effective. We play hard man defense and I don't think they expected us to do that. Our kids played hard, we just missed some open shots."

Neither team was particularly crisp at the offensive end, but Hiland did two things that help teams win in those situations. The Hawks won the rebounding duel 31-21 and forced Strasburg into 21 turnovers with 16 steals. It was the type of defense the Hawks have played in some of their best wins, even if the offense wasn't.

"When you give up 23, you're pleased with that," Schlabach said. "Offensively, we weren't as sharp as we need to be. But, hopefully, that's why you defend well and rebound."

Saturday, Hiland said goodbye to five seniors who played their final games in the Reese Center. All had their moments as the game developed and were on the floor together for a chunk of the fourth quarter before Schlabach took them out for a group curtain call with 3:06 left in the game.

Stutzman and Yoder had their typical numbers, but the other three -- Layla Miller, Gabby Fowler and Rebekah Thomas -- did their thing, too.

Miller hit a 3-pointer and had seven points, Fowler had two points, three rebounds and two steals and Thomas had two points and seven rebounds.

"They've been a great group of kids," Schlabach said. "They're good players, leaders and good people. It's a really good mix in the class. They are going to be missed."

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