COLUMBUS — One long scoring drought in a basketball state tournament game can be overcome, but doing it twice is much more difficult.
And having to do it twice was the decisive moment in St. Henry’s 57-50 loss to Berlin Hiland in a Division IV boys basketball state semifinal on Thursday at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.
After jumping out to an 18-10 lead early in the second quarter, the Redskins were outscored 11-0 over a five-minute span in the second quarter and found themselves down 22-20 at halftime.
The lead changed hands seven times in the third quarter, but then a second 11-0 run put Hiland in control the rest of the game.
St. Henry was up 36-34 in the final minute of the third quarter but was outscored 11-0 again to fall behind 45-36 with 5:48 left in the game.
That lead dwindled to two points, 49-47, on a 3-pointer by Caden Niekamp with 1:32 left in the game, but that was as close as St. Henry could get.
Sam Habeger scored 17 points to lead Berlin Hiland (28-1). Andy Miller had 14 points and Kendall Hochstetler had 11 points. Miller got 11 of his points in the second half and all but two of Hochstetler’s points were in that half.
Jay Knapke led St. Henry (24-4) with 17 points. Caden Niekamp scored 13 points and Zach Niekamp had 12 points.
“We were able to make some big shots. In the second half that’s what it came down to. We hit some big ones,” Hiland coach Mark Schlabach said.
He said the Hawks’ first-half 11-0 run was especially big. “We had that deficit and were able to get some buckets in transition in the second quarter and that was important for our psyche for the rest of the game,” Schlabach said.
After St. Henry took its early 18-10 lead, Hiland called a timeout, then proceeded to turn the ball over on its next two possessions. But St. Henry missed a chance to possibly put some additional doubt into the Hawks mind by not turning either of those mistakes into points.
“I guess the biggest thing was how many front of the rim baskets they were able to get,” St. Henry coach Eric Rosenbeck said. “The first one (of the two 11-0 runs) we had really good shots but they didn’t go down for us. I think it came down to us not making shots.”
He said Miller, the all-time assists leader at Berlin Hiland, played a big role in the Hawks’ strong second half.
“Miller is just too good, he’s going to break you down,” he said.
St. Henry shot 42 percent on field goals (17 of 40), was 5 of 19 on 3-pointers, had 27 rebounds and turned the ball over 14 times. Hiland shot 47 percent on field goals, was 4 of 11 on 3-pointers, had 21 rebounds and turned the ball over only nine times.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.