Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 26 December 2006 18:00Tina Frick's basket with three seconds left in the game gave coach Dale Honeck and his Hillsboro girls' team the gift they wanted for Christmas: a 43-41 victory over Wichita Collegiate on the Spartans' home court.
The victory did more than raise Hillsboro's record to 5-1 heading into the holiday break. It provided a measure of payback for the 78-30 thrashing the Trojans endured one year earlier on the same court.
"We lost to them by almost 50 points last year, and that felt terrible," said senior Lora Andrews, a starter for that game and this one. "If there was a way to win by half a point, that was OK with us. We weren't going to lose to them again."
To be sure, this Spartan team fielded a very different lineup than the senior-laden unit that went on to win the Class 3A state championship last season.
This year's squad came in at 2-2, but had proven itself to be a force to reckoned with. And the Spartans proved it again Tuesday, building a 7-4 lead midway through the first quarter.
Back-to-back buckets by Frick and JuliAnne Chisholm, plus a free-throw by Andrews, gave Hillsboro a 5-0 run and a 9-7 lead by the first break.
But the Spartans upped the ante in the second period when they began hitting the 3-point shots they had been missing in the first period.
Senior guard Gena Camarena went 3-for-3 from long distance and teammate Maddie Lower added a fourth 3-pointer.
Combined with Hillsboro's 3-for-11 shooting and five turnovers, Collegiate led at intermission, 19-16.
"We didn't have a good first half," Honeck said. "We threw the ball away, we weren't on the boards and Camarena was just burning us.
"We just made some simple changes, and I tell you, they were fabulous."
Chisholm opened the third quarter by drilling a 17-footer, but it was on the defensive end where the Trojans truly picked up their game.
Camarena hit one more 3-pointer at the 6:44 mark, but over the next 2:30, the Trojans held Collegiate scoreless, thanks in part to four Spartan turnovers.
Meanwhile, Chisholm and freshman Dakota Kaufman combined for 10 points that carried the Trojans to a 28-26 lead. But a 3-point buzzer-beater by Maddy Ravenstein put Collegiate back on top, 29-28, at the break.
As it turned out, the Trojans saved their best effort for the last quarter-and they needed it.
On the defensive end, Hillsboro limited Collegiate to 3-for-7 shooting, although two baskets were of the 3-point variety.
But over a 3:30 stretch midway through the period, Hillsboro's defense was near perfect, pressuring Collegiate into committing five turnovers and missing its only shot from the floor.
Meanwhile, Hillsboro put up seven points, capped by a pair of free throws by freshman Samantha Soyez, to take a 37-33 lead with 2:41 to play.
But the Spartans did not cave. Camarena hit one more 3-pointer and Allison Harned, who was fouled by Soyez while the shot was in the air, hit both ends of a one-and-one. The five-point play gave Collegiate what turned out to be its last lead of the night at 38-37.
Baskets by Chisholm and Hannah Marsh offset three points by Collegiate to tie the game at 41 with a minute to play.
The Trojans played for a last shot, but in the final seconds the ball came loose. Chisholm grabbed it, lobbed a pass over the head of a Collegiate defender to Frick, who laid it in the basket for the 43-41 lead.
The Spartans had one last chance following a timeout, but turned the ball over as time ran out.
"That was as good a fourth quarter as we could expect out of a bunch of high school girls," Honeck said. "It wasn't so much that we really played good, but (the girls) didn't give up, they played hard and they played better than the other team did."
Chisholm finished with 23 points to pace the Trojans, who improved their shooting in the second half to nearly 53 percent (10-19) after a 32 percent (7-22) first-half performance.
Collegiate, meanwhile, finished with 32 percent accuracy for the game (12-37)-but nine of their buckets came from behind the arc.
Camarena finished with five 3-pointers and 19 points.
Honeck said the victory added momentum to the progress his team has been making of late.
"This is sort of the first third of our season," Honeck said. "We have been playing good for three games now.
"I'm proud of the girls."
Hillsboro will begin the remaining two-thirds of its regular season Jan. 5, when the Trojans play host to undefeated Hoisington.