NEW PHILADELPHIA - The first round of sectionals typically will feature a No. 1 seed against the bottom seed of a bracket, and such was the case Friday night when St. John faced Hiland. The Hawks entered the postseason with a 19-2 record and ranked third in Ohio in terms Division IV boys' basketball. Living up to the hype, the boys from Berlin dispatched the Irish 82-23.
"Give credit to Hiland, they can shoot, they can rebound they do it all well," St. John coach Kevin Lahna said. "They are one of the premier programs in the state because they have sound fundamentals."
Both teams started off a little lethargic and for a while the score was close. That changed quickly when the Hawks began to dominate, quickly dropping the Irish into a 23-8 hole.
As rough as the first quarter had been for the handful of St. John faithful in the stands of the Quaker gymnasium, the second turned out to be worse.
"That team that played out there was not the same St. John's team that has played the past seven or eight games," Lahna said. "I can live with a lot of things we did not do well, but I was very disappointed in our effort."
Hiland's dominant rebounding and harassing defense, combined with ice-cold shooting by the Irish added up to a shut out in the second quarter, leaving St. John in the unenviable position a being down 47-8 at the half.
"The first three minutes it was a tournament atmosphere, but that wears off and after that it becomes a basketball game," Lahna added.
"I thought we just got outhustled, outworked, and I guess that is the part of this game that is hard for me to swallow."
St. John Central senior Garrett Holubeck closed out his career with nine points. Guy Pagano finished with five points and Zach Clark had four points and four rebounds.
The Hawks were paced by 6-foot-6 sophomore Dennis Chupp with a double-double of 14 points 11 rebounds.