Lady Hawks cap off IVC Showcase by winning game of division winners 57-29 over Trojans


When the Hiland Lady Hawks hosted the Tusky Valley Trojans on Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Perry Reese Community Center at Hiland High School, it was for bragging rights between the top-two teams from their respective Inter-Valley North and South divisions.

Hiland struggled to shoot the ball, they turned it over and they made some less than spectacular decisions in shot selection. In a nutshell Hiland didn't play very well.

On the others hand, neither did the Trojans, who also struggled in every phase, and Hiland's smothering defense seemed to wear down Tusky Valley, which helped Hiland churn out a 57-29 win.

"We played really hard, but we didn't play skilled, and we didn't play with a high basketball IQ, and we didn't shoot it well," Hiland head coach Dave Schlabach said. "I think we won that game because we worked hard this summer, but we didn't play well."

Arora Leavengood gave the Trojans an early 4-3 lead on a 3-pointer before Hiland went on a monster run, despite not shooting the ball well. A 21-0 run between the first quarter and the second quarter gave Hiland a lead that put Tusky Valley squarely behind the eight ball.

Aila Miller started the run with two free throws, Zoe Miller scored five points in the paint and Morgan Yoder drained a trey. Brynn Mullet's follow-up to a Zoe Miller miss ended the first quarter with Hiland leading 15-4. Yoder hit one of her patented pull-up runners in the lane to start the second period. Then Shelby Miller ripped a three-ball and hit on a put-back to make it 22-4. Mullet's drive produced a 24-4 lead. While Hiland was scoring, it also was missing a lot and turning the ball over, but the Lady Hawks' defense was all over the court, forcing Trojans turnovers. Sierra Williams finally ended Tusky Valley's drought with a drive, and Taylor Galigher scored four straight to make it 24-9.

That was as close as TV would get, thanks in large part because of back-to-back threes by Kyli Horn and Mullet, Mullet's coming as time expired in the half and gave the Lady Hawks a 32-9 lead.

Tusky Valley came out hustling in the second half and caused a turnover that led to a Jadyn Kuykendall lay-up, but Hiland then stiffened on defense and went on a 16-3 tear, led by Mullet's eight points, six of them on treys. When Yoder scored on a drive and then took a perfect pass from Kendra Shetler and laid it in to end the third quarter, Hiland was in command 50-17.

The Trojans put forth a strong effort to start the final period and trimmed Hiland's lead to 51-24 with Leavengood and Kuykendall leading the charge, but Shetler made a steal and scored to slow the momentum.

Hiland's relentless defense forced the Trojans into a whopping 28 points off of turnovers, compared to just six for TV. Among those turnovers were six steals from Yoder, five from Shetler and four from Mullet.

It was that kind of pressure defense that generated much of Hiland's offense, an offense that struggled much of the game in its half-court sets.

"Any time you have two teams that shoot the ball that poorly, it makes for an ugly game," Schlabach said.

One Lady Hawk who didn't struggle was the emerging Shelby Miller, who continues to make huge strides and gain valuable playing time. Miller went 3-of-5 with a triple for her nine points and was efficient on both sides of the floor.

"She has given us some really good minutes, and she's been a real pleasant surprise," Schlabach said of Shelby Miller.

Mullet also caught fire late, hitting three 3-pointers en route to a game-high 15 points. Yoder had a solid game, producing 13 points and five assists, while Zoe Miller scored eight points with seven rebounds, Aila Miller scored two point with a game-high nine rebounds and Shetler scored five points with four boards.

Arora Levengood led the Trojans with eight points and four rebounds, Ali Shane scored six points and played a key role defensively by blocking a pair of shots, and Megan Stotzer added five points.