GNADENHUTTEN - Hiland's Dave Schlabach labeled it the finest Division IV girls' district in the state of Ohio.
Which will be of no consolation for Tina Yates and her Shadyside Tigers whose ultimate quest was not to achieve second-best status.
Unfortunately, that is the fate after Hiland left little doubt regarding its superiority Friday night. Schlabach's well-schooled team raced to a nine-point lead after one quarter and went on to hand the Tigers a 52-32 setback at Indian Valley High.
The Hawks head to next week's regional at Perry High with a more-than-deceptive 16-8 record.
''We played six Division-I opponents, three of which could end up in Columbus,'' Schlabach said. ''We took a lot of lumps and it was a major challenge losing eight games. But now, let's hope it's starting to pay off.''
Shadyside faced an equally formidable slate, though the Tigers appeared a step slow from the opening tip Friday.
''I'll take the blame for that. I just don't feel we were ready to play,'' Yates said in a statement that seems nearly unimaginable. ''For some reason, we seemed out of sync. No way could I see it coming.
''Our practices seemed fine. (Friday), though, we just didn't bring it.''
Mental preparation was no such problem for Hiland which outplayed the Tigers in virtually every aspect.
''We weren't focused from the get-go,'' Yates continued. ''I felt like we'd play through it. We've been behind before, but we just didn't get it done.''
Hiland and its depth-laden roster was yet another factor. Schlabach executed a frequent 10-player rotation, all of whom are productive contributors.
The Hawks are also an adept defensive club, reflected by Shadyside's all-night offensive struggles. Two of the Tigers' offensive mainstays - guard Hayley Holenka and inside ace Brooke Meintel - were non-factors, much of that a result of foul problems.
Tigers junior Karli Bonar, coming off a 24-point outburst in Tuesday's district semifinal victory against Garaway, was well-defended and found open looks difficult to come by.
Bonar and sophomore guard Toni Andes teamed for all 16 of the Tiger' first-half points, though they trailed by 11 at the break.
Bonar twice went deep in the third but Shadyside could make up no ground and entered the final 8 minutes trailing 36-22.
Yates saw her squad make a small comeback bid to trail by 39-30 before Schlabach ordered timeout to regroup his team. The Tigers rallied no closer and were forced to commit one foul after another down the stretch, permitting the Holmes County squad to pad the margin.
It figures to be a difficult offseason for the Tigers who were unable to achieve two of their primary goals in 2011-12 - defending both their district and OVAC titles.
''Hopefully, (this loss) gives us plenty of incentive to work even harder and get back here a year from now,'' Yates said.
Bonar's 14 points paced the Tigers with Andes scoring eight. All six of Holenka's points were scored in the fourth quarter with the encounter's outcome no longer in doubt.
Sophomore Emily Yoder tossed in 14 points for Hiland including a 12 of 14 effort at the foul line. Senior McKenzie Miller and junior Kendra Schlabach netted nine points apiece.
Hiland was a dominating 36-22 leader off the glass with Miller nabbing 10 stray shots. Meintel brought down six boards for the Tigers Turnovers favored Shadyside, 9-4.