GNADENHUTTEN - The Division IV Gnadenhutten District Girls' tournament is decidedly one of the toughest in the state of Ohio and Rick Isaly knew he had a challenge awaiting in the semifinals against perennial state powerhouse Hiland.
The Hawks had a poor shooting performance against Zanesville Rosecrans but the Pilots would not get such a break from Hiland in this contest as the ladies from Berlin dropped in 8 three-point bombs in the first half and used that momentum to cruise to a 60-27 win over the ladies from Hannibal.
"Despite the game they had against Rosecrans, we knew they had good shooters," said Isaly. "We did not feel we could match up with them in a man-to-man defense, so we used the 3-2 zone and we just could not keep pressure on the ball.
RIVER’S Cassidy McCullough (23) dribbles around Hiland defender Kendra Schlabach during Wednesday night’s Division IV?district basketball tournament at Indian Valley High School. The Lady Pilots were defeated. Additional images can be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"We knew they were going to run people in and out and try to wear us down," said Isaly. "We did get a little tired but I thought overall we came to play tonight, we handled the defensive pressure well, kept the turnovers down and played hard for four quarters, it just wasn't enough."
The Hawks began to pull away as the first quarter ticked down leading 16-4 but River's Haylee Bowers got open in front of the Hiland bench and drained a three at the first buzzer to close, 16-7.
The momentum would not last long as Hiland began to work the perimeter for points. "I told the girls not to fall in love with the three," said Hiland coach David Schlabach. "But that is what they were giving us at the time.
"Meagan Hall has done a great job of starting off games for us this season," said Schlabach of his senior guard who netted the first pair of long range aerials to kick off the scoring frenzy. Emily Yoder, Kendra Schlabach, McKenzie Miller added three-pointers and Regina Hochstetler added a pair of treys as the Hawks netted all of their treys in the first half.
Also adding to their total, Hiland muscled into the paint underneath to get second and third looks as they out-rebound the Pilots, 42-14, pressing their advantage and running up a 34-16 lead at the break.
"We had more kids shooting the ball a little better for us, and got to rest our starters some." said Schlabach of the game. "I was disappointed in our fouls on defense and our turnovers tonight."
The Hawks outscored River 13-5 in the third and 13-6 in the final frame.
Cassidy McCullough paced the Pilots with 10 points and 5 rebounds. Bowers finished with 9 points as River closes its season ledger at 12-11.
The Hawks sent River to the charity stripe 16 times with the Lady Pilots taking full advantage netting 12 for a 75 percent outing. River was not as sharp on the floor making good on 6 of 21 from 2-point and 1 of 4 on three-point action shots. The Pilots committed 16 turnovers but garnered 5 steals as lone senior Emily Dierkes had two thefts.
"For the first time in 22 years, River has advanced to the Division IV girls' district basketball tournament in back-to-back seasons," said Isaly. "We lose one senior, so we get back to work this summer."
McKenzie Miller and Regina Hochstetler paced the Hawks with a dozen points apiece.
Hiland improved to 15-8 on the season and will play in the district finals against Shadyside back at Indian Valley, Friday night.
RIVER (27) - Ramsay, Laken 2, 1-2 5; Ramsay, Landyn 0, 0-1 0; Jones 0, 0-0 0; Dierkes 0, 0-0 0; Weaver 0, 3-4 3; McCullough 3, 4-4 10; Bowers 2, 4-6 9; Goudy 0, 0-0 0; Smith 0, 0-0 0; Weaver 0, 0-0 0; Young 0, 0-0 0. Totals 7, 12-16. HILAND (60) - Yoder 2, 2-2 7; Schlabach 1, 0-0 3; Miller McKenzie 5, 1-1 12; Hochstetler 3, 4-4 12; Schrock 0, 0-0 0; Miller, Regan 0, 1-2 1; Hall 3, 1-2 7; Nickol 2, 1-2 5; Beachy 2, 0-0 5; Miller, Benay 0, 0-0 0; Goings, Sasha 0, 0-0 0; Coil 1, 0-6 2; Goings, Jasmine 1, 0-0 2; Horn 1, 0-0 2; Troyer 0, 2-2 2. Totals 20, 12-19.
Three Point Goals - Hiland (8) - Hall 2, Hochstetler 2, Beachy, McKenzie Miller, Schlabach, Yoder. River - Bowers.
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