Hawks soar early, cruise to big win over Mustangs

Hawks soar early, cruise to big win over Mustangs

Image Credit: Paul A Miller

Finally, a rarity for the Hiland Hawks boys basketball team this season.

After getting off to numerous sluggish starts this season, the Hawks started out on fire, displayed its trademark solid defense and turned in an effort that mushroomed into a cakewalk 57-32 win over Claymont on Jan. 3 at the Reese Center at Hiland High School.

The Mustangs were fresh off a one-point win over league-leading Garaway, so they were out to prove it was no fluke, but the Hawks never let them entertain any thoughts of an upset in this one, racing to an 11-0 lead to start the game.

“We played well from the outset,” Hiland head coach Mark Schlabach said following the win. “I especially liked the balance early on. I just liked how we got everyone involved, and Alex Yoder dominated the bucket, and we capitalized from there. It was nice to see.”

To Schlabach’s point, Yoder opened the first quarter with six quick points, Conner Beachy added four off a steal and a stick-back, Sammy Detweiler nailed a 3-pointer, and Phin Killy added a lay-up to begin what would eventually lead to a 37-12 halftime Hiland lead.

Hiland’s man-to-man defense made life difficult on the Mustangs, with Claymont struggling to get any type of rhythm going offensively. Hiland forced them into eight first-quarter turnovers.

Nothing stopped the Hawks from doing whatever they wanted in the second quarter. Detweiler caught fire, ramming home three treys in the period while adding two steals. Nick Wigton dumped in a corner three-ball and a short jumper while Yoder remained in control inside, adding four more points.

Schlabach was enjoying most everything he saw on the court.

“I thought our decision-making was outstanding,” Schlabach said. “I liked our transition offense too. I thought it was the best of the year for us. Our pressure wasn’t outstanding, but we were still pretty solid all night.”

One other key to victory was the defensive play of Killy, who harassed Claymont’s leading scorer Brady Moreland all night. Killy held the high-scoring threat to just three points, making scoring tough on the Mustangs.

“Phin shut him down,” Schlabach said of Moreland. “We basically didn’t have to help him all night, so that was key.”

The only dent in Hiland’s armor for the night was a three-minute letdown right after intermission.

“We concluded the only way Claymont was going to get back in the game was if we turned the ball over,” Schlabach said. “We didn’t want to do that, but then we came out and had four quick turnovers.”

That mini-run of sloppy basketball didn’t have any effect on the outcome, as the Hawks continued to dominate on defense.

After a quick 6-2 run by Claymont and a Hiland time-out, the Hawks righted the ship and went back to work. Detweiler canned another triple along with several free throws. Beachy completed a steal, Carson Habeger scored on a lay-up and Luke Mast hit a 3-pointer to put the game on ice after three quarters with Hiland in control 52-20.

The fourth quarter featured every Hiland player finding good playing time as Schlabach emptied his bench early.

The Hawks found their way back above .500 at 6-5 while the Mustangs fell to 4-6. Detweiler led all scorers with 21 points while Yoder added 10. Dillon Watkins led Claymont with nine.