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Hornets face top-ranked Hawks in regional semifinals

Coal Grove Hornets’ Cory Borders (2) hits a 3-point jumper during the Division IV district tournament win over Leesburg Fairfield. Coal Grove won the district and will play top-ranked Berlin Hiland at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the regional semifinals at Ohio University’s Convocation Center. (Photo Courtesy of Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

ATHENS, OH — Welcome to the Sweet 16.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s version of the postseason basketball tournament begins its Sweet 16 regional tournaments and the Coal Grove Hornets are part of the group.
The Hornets will play Berlin Hiland at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at the Ohio University Convocation Center in the semifinals.
The other regional game is at 6:15 between New Boston and the Fisher Catholic-Berne Union winner. Tuesday’s semifinal winners meet in the regional finals at 7 p.m. on March 15.
The regional champion earns a trip to the state tournament semifinals at noon on Friday, March 22, at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University.
The Hawks (25-1) come into the game ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press Division IV basketball poll.
The Hornets (18-6) are unranked but won their second straight district championship for the first time in school history and only the program’s third district title.
Berlin Hiland is led by 6-foot-1 senior Kendall Hochstetler who was the East District Co-Player of the Year. He averages 15.9 points and 4.5 rebounds a game while shooting 52 percent from the field.
The point guard is 5-9 senior Andy Miller who averages 6.0 points a game and was second team all-district. Junior Sam Habeger was special mention all-district.
The Hawks are under the guidance of 19-year veteran head coach Mark Schlabach who racked up career coaching win No. 400 in a 68-22 win over East Clinton on Jan. 11.
Schlabach has been at Hiland — his alma mater — for 15 years after four seasons at Loudonville where he posted an 88-12 record. He was named the district Coach of the Year.
Also, expected to start or play off the bench are sophomore Hunter Sommers, senior Jared Raber, senior Kyle Miller and sophomore Will Schlabach.
Coal Grove also features its own district Player of the Year in 6-3 senior Aaron Music who averaged 17.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals. He has signed with Kentucky Christian University.
The Hornets’ best 3-point shooter is 5-10 junior Cory Borders who averages 12.5 points a game and 3.4 rebounds. Running the point is 5-11 senior Jaylen McKenzie who averages 9.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals a game.
Rounding out the starting lineup are 6-foot junior guard Evan Gannon and 6-2 senior Nate Harmon.
The top players off the bench are 5-10 junior Payton Smith, 6-foot senior Evan Holmes and 5-7 senior Kyle Sites.
Gannon, Smith and Holmes have all hit some key 3-pointers during the tournament run.
Coal Grove fourth-year head coach Kevin Vanderhoof has guided the team to back-to-back district titles for the first time in school history.

2018-19 Coal Grove Results
Coal Grove 65 Green 71
Coal Grove 65 Raceland 58
Coal Grove 61 Minford 43
Coal Grove 66 Portsmouth 54
Coal Grove 46 Fairland 51
Coal Grove 60 St. Joseph 48
Coal Grove 83 Hunt. St. Joe 51
Coal Grove 57 Oak Hill 48
Coal Grove 64 Rock Hill 59
Coal Grove 54 Chesapeake 42
Coal Grove 53 Minford 56
Coal Grove 67 Ironton (3OT) 62
Coal Grove 46 South Point 33
Coal Grove 64 Portsmouth 33
Coal Grove 41 Fairland 61
Coal Grove 72 Hunt. St. Joe 45
Coal Grove 57 Chesapeake 54
Coal Grove 62 Ironton 67
Coal Grove 65 Rock Hill 46
Coal Grove 55 South Point 54
Tournament
Coal Grove 70 Federal Hocking 42
Coal Grove 81 Fairfield 46
Coal Grove 61 Waterford 56
Record: 18-6

2018-19 Berlin Hiland Results
Hiland 71 West Holmes 28
Hiland 49 Strasburg-Franklin 39
Hiland 65 Ridgewood 33
Hiland 67 Claymont 56
Hiland 75 Grandview Hts. 49
Hiland 60 Buckeye Trail 30
Hiland 77 Newcomerstown 19
Hiland 43 Cleve. East Tech 55
Hiland 68 Tallmadge 58
Hiland 46 Mansfield St. Peter 35
Hiland 44 Indian Valley 26
Hiland 50 Garaway 32
Hiland 68 East Canton 22
Hiland 54 Wooster Triway 40
Hiland 66 Ridgewood 39
Hiland 44 Gahanna Lincoln 36
Hiland 60 Fort Frye 41
Hiland 74 Buckeye Trail 34
Hiland 80 Newcomerstown 38
Hiland 43 Strasburg-Franklin 37
Tournament
Hiland 76 Newcomerstown 19
Hiland 57 Caldwell 22
Hiland 48 Bishop Rosecrans 39
Hiland 58 Strasburg-Franklin 48
Record: 25-1