When the Hawken Hawks boys basketball team found junior forward David Dettelbach open under the basket in the fourth quarter last Wednesday, it seemed like a foregone conclusion he would dunk it.
The Chagrin Falls Tigers had other ideas and partially blocked the Hawks’ 6-foot-5 big man.
According to Dettelbach, he knew he needed to finish that play and when Hawken ran a similar play on the next possession, he slammed it home off an assist from freshman guard Gregory Price, pushing the Hawks ahead 42-30.
“It was definitely an adrenaline rush,” Dettelbach said. “The whole team had a lot of energy and we were playing our butts off on defense and were getting lots of steals and good looks so I knew I could not let them down again.”
Hawken slowly pulled away in the fourth quarter and defeated its Chagrin Valley Conference foe Tigers 50-36 at the Ralph L. Quesinberry Gymnasium to overtake them for second place in the conference.
“Chagrin Falls does a really good job of making you play at their pace and we wanted to get it going,” Hawks’ Coach Josh Nugent said. “As the game wore on we wanted to keep coming at them in waves and hoped over the course of the game we could create a little separation.”
Having graduated eight seniors, Hawken (5-2, 4-1) added six players to varsity including two freshmen, guards Da’ron Hill and the 6-foot Price.
According to the fourth-year Hawken coach, the underclassmen make up for their inexperience by adding a different dimension to the team.
“Those young guys are talented, long and athletic,” he said. “They bring a different element for us and are learning from guys that have been around for a long time so that inexperience shows up once in a while but they have really good guys helping them learn and guide them along the way.”
Hawken’s new lineup has Dettelbach playing center and returning guards Dom Johnson and Taj Caver as its starting backcourt.
The Hawks lost some size in their graduating class and are giving up a few inches in the backcourt with Johnson standing at 5-foot-7 and Caver at 5-foot-8, but they have overcome that by pushing the ball in transition.
“We are a really young team but we like to play a little more free brand of basketball,” Dettelbach said. “Last year we had more sets that were really more intentional but this year it is more get-it-and-go because I think in high school basketball you play at your best when you are playing fast.”
Nugent added that despite Johnson and Caver’s underwhelming stature, they excel at controlling the pace and have the set the tone for a quicker style of offense for Hawken this season.
The first period saw neither team have much success with its perimeter shooting and both battled for position in the paint.
The pivotal battle for an inside presence was the match-up of Dettelbach against Tigers’ senior forward James Kosmides.
“James is obviously one of our go-to guys and Hawken had a big body to match him,” Chagrin Falls’ Coach Dave Bargar said. “I thought James did a nice job scoring early.”
The 6-foot-5 Kosmides and Dettelbach each scored four points in the first quarter but the Hawken forward won the rebounding battle by collecting six.
Chagrin Falls dictated the pace in the opening quarter but the Hawks outrebounded their confeence rivals 8-2 to hold a 13-10 advantage.
“I think being able to hold the Tigers to one shot and get shots even when the pace was in their favor allowed us to make sure things did not get too bogged down,” Nugent said. “We have David in the middle but outside of that we are not the biggest team so we have to do it collectively and our guys have done a really nice job of that this year.”
The Tigers (5-2, 4-2) kept operating at a slow pace in the second quarter and were fueled by an 8-5 run to tie the score at 18-18, but Hawken responded with a 6-2 spurt to take a four-point lead into halftime.
“It was really nice to see us play a game at a slow pace and still be successful,” said Nugent. “This group is figuring out different ways to be successful. We feel really good if we are going to play in a track meet but now we are learning how to play in a slog fest and be successful.”
All points scored in the second quarter came inside and neither team hit a 3-pointer after each making one in the first period.
For Chagrin Falls, going cold from beyond the arc hurt more than it did for the Hawks.
“We had open looks but all we made was open lay-ups,”the 18th-year Tigers’ coach said. “We could not finish anything.”
Hawken’s defense started picking up the pace in the third quarter and Caver forced consecutive turnovers to ignite the Hawks’ fast break, adding four quick points to extend the gap to eight, the largest lead of the game.
The Hawks continued disrupting Chagrin Falls’ offense by forcing eight turnovers to take a six-point lead into the final quarter.
Caver sparked the Hawks by scoring eight points in the third period.
Hawken’s defense hit their stride in the fourth period and went on an 8-0 run, to push the lead to double digits, holding Chagrin Falls scoreless until Kosmides ended the drought on a putback at the 3:36 mark.
After committing just four turnovers in the first half, Hawken forced the Tigers into 13 turnovers in the second half.
“I think we shut them down with our intensity and our ability to get in their faces,” Dettelbach said.
After a road game against Elyria Catholic on Thursday evening, the Hawks will close out the calendar year by playing CVC foe Edgewood on the road at 7 p.m. Friday in Ashtabula.
Meanwhile, following a home contest against Chardon on Wednesday night, the Tigers will return to the court next year when they host conference foe Geneva at 5:30 p.m. Jan 7.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.