Another magical ride ends on the edge as Hawks down Generals

| February 10, 2021
Peering out from his magic roundball lamp, the basketball genie surely had a mischievous look in his eye when he saw that Hiland and Ridgewood were scheduled to square off again in boys’ basketball.
“Hey, why not mix up another fantastic finish between these two rivals,” one could imagine him saying.
Much like the previous game between these two teams that saw Will Schlabach bury a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a one-point Hiland win, the Hawks and Generals waged another epic battle, this one at Hiland Tuesday, Feb. 9, where they took it right down to the wire again before Hiland pulled out a magical 59-58 win that was just as exciting as the last game.
This game came down to a final buzzer-beater that just missed the mark, and Hiland head coach Mark Schlabach was elated with the final result, not just because his team won, but because they won it together.
“They are a really good team,” Schlabach said of Ridgewood. “I don’t know for sure how we beat them twice. A win on senior night was special. We didn’t play great tonight, but I think we got the most out of the most guys of any game this season. Everybody stepped up tonight and contributed. It was a great team victory.”
The game was a humdinger from the onset, with the first quarter featuring three ties and six lead changes, with Ridgewood leading 18-15 to end the period. The generals would go on to lead by three points at each of the first three stops, but Hiland would lead in the only one that mattered the most.
Coming out of intermission, the Generals opened up their biggest lead at 36-28, with Dalton Patterson hitting a lay-up, a put-back and a free throw. Schlabach and Kurtis Varian traded threes and Ridgewood maintained that lead most of the quarter. The Hawks got back into it on a trey from Schlabach and J.J. Miller’s lay-up to make it 42-39 Ridgewood heading into the final quarter.
Cackling in his lamp, the genie worked his magic moments later, and Tony Yoder’s triple tied things at 42. It was game on.
A Varian 3-pointer and a Patterson score off a steal gave the Generals a momentary 47-42 lead. Hiland fought back on two Ryan Miller free throws and a Schlabach score off a drive to get within two. However, Ridgewood pushed back out to a 54-48 lead with 2:42 to play, getting a Braden Maleski jumper, a Gabe Tingle drive and a Patterson lay-up sandwiched around a Schlabach and-one.
Schlabach quickly called time-out and the hawks responded with their best play of the evening down the stretch.
Schlabach scored six quick points on two possession, one on a 3-pointer, the other on an and-one, and just that quickly the game was knotted at 54 with 1:35 to play. General Marcus Leindecker hit a jumper, but Hiland’s Dylan weaver answered with a huge triple to spot the Hawks to a 57-56 lead.
The genie could barely contain himself in the bottle.
“Dylan was relentless tonight,” Schlabach said of Weaver. “He came up big for us the whole game, not only with that three, but on the boards as well.”
With 59 seconds remaining, the genie plotted his script. Leindecker’s short jumper gave the Generals the lead with 35 seconds, and Hiland opted to run clock for a last shot. However, Patterson stole the ball and raced down the floor as time ticked quickly. His contested lay-up would have sealed the deal with little time left, but instead it rattled out and the hawks grabbed the rebound and called timeout with four seconds left.
The ensuing inbound pass to Grant Miller saw Tingle hounding him big-time, and a foul was called on Tingle. Miller calmly toed the line and ripped two free throws to give the Hawks a one-point lead.
“No one wants to see a foul called 85-feet from the basket,” said Ridgewood head coach Troy Dolick. “We wanted to sustain pressure, but not foul. They hadn’t been calling that type of play all night. But give Hiland credit, they knocked down two free throws when they had to.”
However, this one was far from over. Ridgewood fired a pass to mid-court and called timeout with 3.5 seconds left. Tingle inbounded the ball and quickly got a return pass and made a beeline for the paint. He rose for a short jumper at the buzzer, but his effort rimmed out and the Hawks had earned another exciting win over the Generals.
 “Tingle got just what he wanted out of that last set, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be,” said coach Schlabach. “I don’t know many high school players faster than Tingle. They got what they wanted. We were really lucky that didn’t fall.”
With their 10th very tight win of the season out of their 13 victories, Schlabach’s crew continues to get tested game after game. Schlabach scored 22 points to pace Hiland, with Weaver and Ryan Miller each adding eight. Patterson, Varian and Tingle all reached double digits for Ridgewood, scoring 15, 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Generals slid to 14-4 overall with three losses in the Inter-Valley Conference South division, while Hiland improved to 13-7 with two league losses. Both teams trail Tusky Valley, which has one loss, but the hawks have hope, ironically turning to the Generals in hopes that they can upset the Trojans in West Lafayette next Tuesday.

Category: High School, Sports

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