The Hawks State title, and 27 wins to just one loss, made Hiland basketball fans forget about the recent trips to the State final four in 1998 (semifinal loss to Dayton Jefferson Township, 76-67, where Kyle Schlabach scored 31 - a record still in the State program), 1999 (semifinal loss to Fort Recovery, 68-55), 2000 (semifinal loss to Fort Jennings, 71-56) and 2007 (semifinal loss to Georgetown, 42-41).
It also made them remember that night in 1992 when Coach Perry Reese led the Hawks to their other State championship, beating Gates Mills Gilmour Academy, 74-71, in a dramatic fashion that we all can recall.
This year, one of the best boys basketball programs in the state of Ohio is at it again, led by seniors Dylan Kaufman (19 points in State final last season) and Seger Bonifant (21 points in State final last season). The Hawks are out to a 6-0 start, beating opponents by an average of just over 28 points per game.
But the Hawks are not the only boys basketball program making noise this season. The West Holmes Knights, while only out to a 2-3 record, seams to be back on the right track.
Yeah, West Holmes doesn't have the gaudy history the boys program at Hiland does, and it will take a lot of hard work to reach that level, but this year’s West Holmes team is one you need watch.
Led by sophomore phenom point guard Brady Arnold and big man Gabe Synder, the Knights head coach Jim Lindeman has built some depth in the program in just his third season. Lindeman has brought a new attitude to the Dungeon and you can tell his players are buying in. And West Holmes has depth… and a lot of it. That depth includes one special sharpshooter, Michael Dewitt. Dewitt brings a ton of energy off the bench and is lights out from downtown. The Brady/Dewitt show is one you will want to see.
How about the girls programs you might ask? How does since 1983, a combined SEVEN State titles sound? West Holmes girls have won three and Hiland girls four. West Holmes had two more trips to the final four in 1993 and 1995, and Hiland had trips to the final four in 1989, 1990, 1997, 1999. 2004, 2009 and 2010. Pretty traditionally winning programs, I must say.
And both programs are out to a good start this season.
Hiland girls, led by McKenzie Miller and Regina Hochstelter, both averaging 9.0 points per contest have raced out to an easy 5-0 record winning by an average 31.8 points per game.
Across the county, West Holmes girls basketball is off to a 4-0 start, making both our girls programs in the county undefeated.
People, pack up your kids, feed the cat, get in the car and make your way to the local gymnasium to see one of these four programs play. Not only are we completely blessed to live in such a great area of the country, we are blessed to have young adults doing great things as student athletes and you should support them.
The basketball tradition in this county is extremely thick and this season, it may be thicker than ever. So don't wait. Go see the Brady Arnold show and witness one of the quickest point guards West Holmes was ever seen. Get to the Perry Reese Center and watch the defending Division IV champions try and defend their title. Don't wait until the Hiland girls and West Holmes girls are down the tournament trail, support them now.
Published: December 19, 2011