COLUMBUS — Defending Division IV state champion Berlin Hiland punched its ticket to a second straight state championship contest after pulling away from Arlington for a 46-37 victory in state semifinal action on Thursday afternoon at The Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Hiland (26-1, No. 2 D-IV) will face Jackson Center (27-0, No. 1 D-IV) on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the state title tilt.
Trailing 14-10 after one quarter of play and after falling behind 16-10, the Hawks went on an 11-0 run to take a 21-14 lead early in the second stanza. After the spurt Hiland never trailed again.
“We’re a team that thrives on confidence and consecutive scores,” said Hiland mentor Mark Schlabach. “That (run) was as important as anything.”
Said Arlington coach Jason Vermillion: “We couldn’t stop the bleeding. We were trying to get the ball to Thayne (Recker), but we haven’t faced 6-7, 6-7 much this season. We never got our second-chances opportunities that we have in the past.”
The much taller Hawks controlled the paint and were on lock-down mode defenisvely after the first eight minutes of the contest. Neil Gingerich (6-7, senior), Seger Bonifant (6-7, senior) and D-IV Ohio Player of the Year Dylan Kaufman (6-5, senior) gave the Red Devils fits the entire game.
“I thought Neil and Seger guarded him (Arlington 6-4 senior Thayne Recker) real hard,” said Schlabach about the key to slowing down the Red Devils. “Our blocked shots were important and we did it without fouling.”
Gingerich blocked seven shots, grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 12 points for the Hawks, who held Arlington 23 points after the first quarter. Kaufman led Hiland with 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
Recker led Arlington with 14 points and seven boards. Andrew Hunter finished with 11 points and Michael Blunk scored four points and led the Red Devils with eight rebounds.