DRESDEN -- Hiland's defensive intensity continues to peak as the Hawks move along the tournament trail. The pressure posed by the guards ignited an 18-2 run in the first quarter of Tuesday's Eastern District semifinal battle against West Muskingum.
Hiland went on a 15-0 run to open the second quarter en route to a 71-34 thrashing of the Tornadoes at Tri-Valley High School.
The win advances the 20-4 Hawks to the District final on Friday against Tusky Valley, a 39-33 winner over Coshocton. The site will be determined today.
Kyle Lones drilled a 3-pointer to give West M, which bowed out at 12-12, an early 3-0 advantage.
Turner Horn scored inside and a steal and layup by Chris Kline gave Hiland a 4-3 lead, and before they knew what hit them, the Tornadoes' deficit doubled as Damian Kandel scored on a stickback and Horn hit another jumper, causing West Muskingum coach Josh Middleton to call a timeout.
All told, the Tornadoes committed 25 turnovers.
"We weren't surprised by their quickness. We were surprised at how our guys reacted," Middleton said. "We knew they were going to come out and pressure us and we knew how fast they were. I thought we would handle it a little bit better with four guards."
Out of the timeout Drake Dodson scored a layup for the Tornadoes, but Horn answered with a 3-pointer, followed by a Kobe Troyer triple. A steal, layup by Kline, another steal and another Kline score had the Hawks up 18-5 at the end of the first period and on their way to the final.
"We're a little feast or famine, especially when he's in there," Hiland coach Mark Schlabach said of Kline, the 5-foot-10 senior guard. "He'll either steal it from you or you're probably going to score a layup. But, with our size, that's how we are. That's how we have to play.
"Our pressure was the difference tonight," Schlabach continued. "We knew it had to be."
Back-to-back buckets inside by Noah Sommers to open the second stanza gave Hiland a 22-5 lead, and a score by Kline and a pair of free throws from Horn made it 26-5. An Andy Miller steal and feed to Horn for a 3-pointer, another turnover and a Horn score followed by a Kline steal and layup capped a 15-0 run to open the second period with Hiland up 33-5 and West M looking gassed. The Hawks led 57-23 after three.
The senior duo of Horn and Kline provided the one-two offensive pop for the Hawks. Horn led the way with 21 points and Kline was right behind with 18.
Kobe Troyer finished with 11 as a trio of Hawks hit double figures.
The Hawks won the battle of the boards 31-26 and held West M's leading scorer, 6-4 Drew McKenzie, to six points. Sommers led the way with seven rebounds and Horn yanked down five.
"I thought our guys did a great job on the boards after the first quarter," Schlabach said. "A lot of that comes from our pressure. You force their guards away from the hoop and you only have to box out one or two guys, instead of four or five.
"They're a good team. They play in a tough league," he added of the Tornadoes. "We didn't expect to do that to them. Defensively, we were solid. Offensively, we weren't as sharp, but when the tempo is up like it was, we play better."
The Hawks hit 23 of 40 shots from the floor, including 7 of 17 from beyond the arc. West M made 4 of 14 from beyond the arc and 10 of 28 inside the line.
Schlabach says he is not surprised to be facing Tusky Valley because they are well-coached and play much better than a 12th seed.
"That's been the mistake of their opponents so far, I'd say without seeing the game," he added. "I'll bet Coshocton underestimated them."