Lady Hawks down Lady P's 46-33 in a topsy-turvy and frigid night of hoops


When backyard rival Garaway braved temperatures hovering around zero and made the trek across state Route 39 to face Hiland on Wednesday, Jan. 30, it set the table for a game that left both coaches feeling opposite of how one might think a winning and losing coach would feel following a game.

The winning coach was disappointed; the losing coach was happy. It was definitely a weird winter game that was one of only a handful of games played in Ohio on a bitter-cold night. With cancellations everywhere across the state, about the only other games in Ohio took place in the Cincinnati area, so this one was truly the only game in town.

It turned out to be a lot closer than most expected as Garaway battled hard before falling to the Div. III number-three ranked Lady Hawks 46-33.

For Garaway head coach Dave Shutt, it was a marked difference from the earlier game these teams played this season.

"What does this game tell you about how far we have progressed?" Shutt said, referring to the earlier 64-37 loss they suffered at the hands of Hiland earlier this season. "For three quarters we were back and forth. I told the girls they can hang their hat on our defense because that has been where we have been the last eight games. We dug deep, didn't quit and I was really proud of their effort."

Hiland head coach Dave Schlabach was not anywhere in the same ballpark when it came to assessing his team's performance, despite the victory.

"My eyes are bleeding from that game," Schlabach said with grim irony following the game. "I thought we were terrible everywhere, turning the ball over, took bad shots, didn't show any kind of skill level whatsoever."

Meanwhile Shutt said of his team's effort, "I can go home and sleep well tonight. The first game I couldn't."

After a solid first quarter, the Lady Hawks seemed to go into sleepwalk mode the rest of the way as the Lady Pirates picked up their effort and started playing better.

Kelsey Swihart split two free throws and Morgan Yoder nailed a 3-pointer to give Hiland an early advantage. After Chelsi Rothacher got Garaway on the board with a score inside off a nice assist from Ashton Gerber, Hiland went on a tear, reeling off 11 straight to end the period, including three straight treys from Kyli Horn, Brynn Mullet and Zoe Miller.

The second quarter was a near standstill as the two teams traded punches. Hiland began its struggle overall, although Kendra Shetler came in off the Lady Hawks bench to provide a real spark of energy. Garaway's Kallie Regula began heating up and gave her team a lift, and Hiland led 25-11 at the half.

Regula scored five points to start the second half to trim Hiland's lead to 12, but moments later Swihart dropped a triple to move the lead out to 32-16. Gerber's and-one trimmed it to 13 again, but Hiland ended the third quarter with single free throws from Aila Miller and Shetler and a beautiful Yoder runner in the lane to lead 39-21 through three.

Swihart scored four points, and Yoder drove home a 3-pointer early in the fourth, and Hiland showed signs of life to take its largest lead at 46-23, but just as quickly the Lady Hawks went back into hibernation and Garaway took charge.

"We followed the scouting report pretty good and were buying into that," Shutt said. "If we keep doing that and keep getting better, I like where we can be down the tournament trail."

Rothacher knocked down a trey and scored inside. Regula dropped in a rainbow from downtown and followed that up with two free throws, and the lead was at 13 again. Hiland was struggling to deal with the Lady Pirates' pressure out front and looked out of sync, but unfortunately for Garaway time simply ran out.

"I love playing them because I think it makes both of us better," Shutt said of two teams that know each other intimately, having played each other now 98 times over the years. "I think I am proudest because of our defensive effort. That wasn't there the first game, and it is a progression."

Schlabach said while he felt as though his youthful team, which starts four sophomores and a freshman, has made some nice strides and played some really good games in recent days including two at Classic in the Country, this was a step back and showed that youth can sometimes present challenges.

"We are a young team, and we obviously didn't respect Garaway enough to be ready to play," Schlabach said. "That was the difference. We were searching for something positive out there tonight. That was an ugly one. All of the 50-50 balls Garaway went and got. They played much closer to their potential than we did. That was a lot of bad basketball for us."

Regula led her team with 16 points, and it seems as though she steps up and delivers in this particular battle. Since stepping in and playing large minutes in her freshman year, Regula has had some of her better games against Hiland.

"Maybe she would like to play them 20 times a year," Shutt said jokingly. "She scored multiple ways tonight, and there were times when we wanted to isolate her on the block. She kept us in this game when we struggled to score early."

Unfortunately for the Lady P's, scoring, other than Rothacher, who added nine, was tough to come by. High-scoring Zoe Johnson was held to just five points while Gerber added three.

"They are so good defensively," Shutt said of Hiland. "They speed you up into rushed shots, and I thought we did that early. We took a handful of shots due to them rushing us. They aren't third in the state for nothing."

Hiland got 13 from Yoder and eight from Shetler, and Schlabach said they were the two bright spots on the night. Leading scorer Zoe Miller was held to just eight, a number matched by Swihart, while Horn added five and Mullet chipped in three.

The Lady Hawks continued their season-long raid on the glass, outrebounding the Lady P's 41-19 with Shetler hauling down 11 and Zoe Miller grabbing nine. Johnson and Regula each snared five for Garaway.

Schlabach said he hopes his kids use this game to help them realize that while they may be ranked high in Div. III, they are not a finely polished team just yet who can mail an effort in.

"We have four legitimate games left to play," Schlabach said. "This team needs that. I am not going to scream and yell. It's youth, and they know."