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More of the same
Hiland able to grind out another win over Garaway

Daily Record Sports Writer

SUGARCREEK -- It was the same old story in the Hiland-Garaway girls basketball rivalry.

Garaway All-Ohioan Laura Bardall played her butt off. The game was low-scoring. And as always in recent years, the Hawks were able to grind out a victory.

This time it was a season-opening 42-34 win for the Hawks. The Pirates dropped to 1-1 overall and 1-1 in the Inter-Valley Conference.

It was again Hiland hitting a few more big shots than Garaway in this latest chapter.

"It seems like it always comes down to a couple shots," said Hiland coach Dave Schlabach, whose team won its 86th IVC game in a row. "Hilary Weaver's big 3 was probably the shot of the game."

That shot stretched the Hawks' lead from three to six with 1:46 left and the Hawks were able to close it out from there.

The three-point deficit was as close as the Pirates had been all game. It took quite a lot for them to get back after trailing the 12-time defending IVC champs by 13 early in the second quarter.

Bardall kept the Pirates in it all the way with a 17-point, three-rebound effort. Her game was highlighted by the final play of the third quarter. Bardall stepped into a passing lane for a breakaway steal. She sped up the court and heaved a runner from about 30-feet out that took the score to 33-25 going into the final quarter. From there they chipped away until they were within three late in the game.

"I'm proud of how they responded," Garaway coach Scott Bardall said. "We made mistakes but I thought they corrected the mistakes. Coming in I thought we had to defend the 3 and we did. And we rebounded much better after the first quarter-and-a-half."

But in the end, the Hawks were too much to handle.

Bolstered by a pair of solid games from Weaver, a sophomore point guard, and All-Ohioan Jena Stutzman the Hawks put together an impressive first nine minutes.

Weaver came out of the gates with a drive that drew a foul and started the game with a pair of free throws 14 seconds in. From there it was a pair of Stutzman lay ups and a Katelyn Stuckey score off a dish from Karli Mast. Bardall hit a 3 to stop the bleeding, but Hiland scored the next eight to push the game to 16-3.

By the final buzzer, Stutzman posted 17 points on 8-of-13 from the floor. Weaver put together a nine-point, six rebound effort.

"We've been on her so much," Schlabach said. "About how she needs to be an attacking point guard. The first play of the game she went down the middle and drew a foul. That's what we're looking for.

"And Jena was her usual. She was solid. We've got other kids that we have to bring around now."

The Hawks got six points apiece from Stuckey and Kristi Yoder, who added five rebounds. Their presence was needed inside as the Hawks are banged up heading into the season.

"Rebekah (Thomas) wasn't going to play, and she gave us solid minutes," Schlabach said. "And so did Jessica Stutzman. Jessica hasn't practiced in six months, Rebekah hasn't in three weeks."

The story was much the same for the Pirates. They went without post Kenzie Kaufman, who gave Hiland headaches with her size a season ago.

"I played a freshman for 27 minutes," Bardall said. "I had a sophomore at the two-spot for probably 28 minutes and I had a junior coming off an ACL injury and another who never smelled the floor last season. So four of my seven players got to learn the intensity that goes with it."

The Hawks likely won't have another true test until they play at West Holmes in four weeks. The win gives them an inside shot at a 13th consecutive IVC title as they've beaten the rest of the conference by an average of over 50 points per game the last three seasons.

Both teams feel like they have a shot at making state. Both are likely to finish atop the IVC again.

Even with the victory, the story is still the same: There's still work to do.

"I'm really happy with our first quarter tempo," Schlabach said. "A lot of the kids made plays, but Garaway does a good job and they battle all game.

"A lot of times in the game I felt we didn't have tempo-wise what we needed."

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