‘Like sharks in the water’: Hiland bares teeth in blowout Classic win over Shelby

By The-Daily-Record.com

BERLIN — It took a nationally ranked basketball prep school from North Carolina with multiple future Division I college players to hand Hiland its first loss

Shelby, despite its undefeated record heading into Monday, stood little chance of giving the Hawks loss No. 2.

Hiland flew onto the court determined in the final game of the Classic in the Country, and left no doubt of the final outcome, only the final margin.

In a game that should have been close on paper, the Hawks treated the Whippets to the traditional Hiland Experience, running them off the floor by the second quarter and cruising to an eventual 99-25 victory.

“Our kids are like sharks in water right now,” Hiland head coach Dave Schlabach said. “They’re relentless.”

Yes, a 74-point win against a previously 15-0 team.

“We wanted to let them know what kind of team we were from the very beginning,” Hiland junior Zoe Miller said.

Fresh off its 44-41 loss to Winston-Salem Christian, the No. 10 team in the nation in espnW’s most recent high school girls hoops rankings, the Hawks made sure they wouldn’t lose two in a row and go winless in the tournament they host every year.

The formula was familiar — a full-court press out of a basketball horror movie, dead-eye 3-point shooting and post play the snobbiest “Back In My Day” hoops historian would stamp with approval.

“They’re just chomping for opportunities,” Schlabach said. “I’ve never had a group of 10 play so hard. They’ve all bought in. It’s almost peer pressure — if you don’t play hard, you don’t belong. It’s just really starting to snowball for our group.”

The Hawks were simply brilliant in every facet, giving Shelby no room for error. An even if the Whippets limited mistakes, they may not have won.

But sports aren’t played in hypothetical — Hiland forced 38 turnovers, giving it plenty of easy baskets to add to the ones it scored during clinical transition offense and halfcourt sets.

“I think our speed of the game, the first time you play us — Coach (Perry) Reese used to always say that — the first time somebody goes against your pressure ... if they play us again, I’m sure they handle our pressure differently. But the first time (is tough) because not many teams play as fast as we do.”

Nobody was better in the halfcourt than Miller. The junior post player showed why she’s an All-Ohio shoe-in, putting up 22 points and grabbing 15 rebounds (11 offensive boards) all while running the floor and handling the ball with ease.

“If she plays 24 minutes, she gets 20 boards,” Schlabach said. “She’s a big-time player. I’ve had a lot of great players, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had a kid who controls every game like her. She doesn’t have an off game.”

When Miller wasn’t owning the paint, the Hawks were bombing 3-pointers, set up by unselfish passing all around.

Guards like Morgan Yoder, Krista Troyer and Brynn Mullet did their fair share of scoring too, but they were always willing to make the extra pass to hit an open teammate when the opportunity presented itself. The Hawks had 20 assists as a team and hit 12 of 29 3s.

The result was a 27-10 lead by the end of the first quarter, a 56-19 halftime lead and a 50-point lead midway through the third quarter.

“They have five kids on the floor that are quick and strong and can all score,” Shelby head coach Natalie Lantz said. “Their mentality is a little tougher than our — a lot tougher than ours right now.”

Yoder had 13 points and four assists, Troyer finished with 14 points and five assists and Mullet had five points and four assists.

Kyli Horn and Kelsey Swihart each scored in double figures as well, going for 10 apiece.

Nobody scored in double digits for Shelby, who went 9-for-35 from the field.


Shelby scored the first basket of the game. Hiland reeled off 14 straight points after that.

The Whippets cut it to 19-10 at one point, but never got closer.


Forcing turnovers and offensive rebounds fuel the Hiland machine and the numbers were staggering against Shelby.

Because of those two factors, Hiland got 45 more shot attempts. The Hawks had 35 rebounds on the offensive glass alone. Shelby reeled in 20 rebounds total.

Hiland is known for blowing teams out, but it’s only beaten one team by a bigger margin this season — a 105-13 win over Buckeye Trail. The Hawks now have nine wins of 48 points or more.


Hiland’s toughest regular-season games appear to be behind them.

The Hawks haven’t lost a Inter-Valley Conference game in more than a decade and nothing suggest 2020 is the year to break the streak.

They hope the tests they got during the Classic — especially Saturday’s loss — gave them lessons they can learn from in their pursuit to add another state title banner to the rafters of the Perry Reese Community Center.

“It definitely makes us feel more comfortable knowing that we played (good) competition,” Miller said.