MASSILLON - Lowellville's slow second half hurt its chances against the Berlin Hiland Hawks on Thursday night.
The Hawks used two early scoring runs in the third and fourth quarter that helped pave the way to a 47-37 victory in a Division IV regional semifinal matchup at Massillon Perry High School.
"We told them at halftime to expect a totally different team," Rockets' coach Tony Matisi said. "We wore down as the clock wore down, and my biggest fear was second, third and fourth rebounds."
The Hawks (17-8) went on a 6-0 scoring run to open the third quarter and a 9-2 run to begin the fourth.
In the second half, they out-rebounded the Rockets (22-3), 23-10. Matisi said the Rockets cannot allow "cheap points" in order to be successful.
"Second half just took its toll," Matisi said. "Him (Hawks coach Dave Schlabach) playing his nine to 10 kids took us out of it. We couldn't get into any flow."
The Hawks scored 24 second-half points, while the Rockets mustered 14.
Schlabach said his team tried to "belly" the Rockets out into pressure in the first half.
"We decided in the second half that we wanted to play half court but just play off," he said. "We just didn't allow them to get to the rim anymore."
The first three Rocket possessions in the third quarter were three missed 3-point field goals, resulting into six Hiland points.
"There were a lot of times where we probably could have set more plays, but I think it was just the nerves because that's what we do best," Rockets' senior guard Taylor Hvisdak said.
Hvisdak added that the Rockets should have started the third quarter stronger.
"Our nerves just kind of let that get to us," she said.
McKenzie Miller led the Hawks with 12 points and collected seven second-half rebounds.
"She's done that for four straight games," Schlabach said. "She's been fantastic."
Kendra Shlabach and Regan Miller finished behind Miller with six points each.
Leading the charge for the Rockets was Kaye Solak with 12 points. Hvisdak and Emily Carlson scored seven points each.
Hvisdak said it was a great experience to play with the whole team in a semifinal game.
"It's an opportunity of a lifetime, especially being there with the whole team," she said. "That's what I wanted especially in my senior year just to play with all of them."
Matisi choked on his words after the game, struggling to get them out of his mouth.
"The hardest thing I just did was going into that locker room," Matisi said. "Those kids played so hard. I don't think they left anything out there. Just to come up short doesn't feel very good."
Matisi added that this season was a special time.
"They're very special, a work ethic like I've never seen," he said, still choking on his words. "What's so hard right now is I don't think that they thought they were going to get beat. They believed that they were confident. I think that makes it that much worse."
While the Rockets' season came to a close, the Hawks will face Windham in the District IV final on Saturday.