The non-league game dropped the Trojan girls, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, to 8-1 for the season while the Black Bear girls, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, improved to 9-0. The Hillsboro boys’ win pushed them above .500 at 5-4 overall, Sterling dropped to 2-7.
GIRLS — When it came down to it, Sterling made shots when it counted and Hillsboro didn’t.
The Trojans had overcome a disappointing halftime deficit of 23-17 to lead 41-37 midway through the final quarter. But Hillsboro made only one of its next 11 shots to leave the door open for a Sterling comeback. The Black Bears took advantage of the opportunity, finishing the game with 4-for-4 shooting, including a huge three-point basket by Aubrey Nuest that gave her team the lead for good at 46-43 with 37 seconds to play.
Both teams enjoy rattling their opponents with defensive pressure, then pushing the ball up the court for transition baskets. The problem was, Sterling was doing it better than Hillsboro was. The Trojans committed an uncharacteristic 14 turnovers in the first half and shot poorly from the floor (6-21 for 28 percent). Meanwhile, the youthful Black Bears committed only five turnovers and made more shots (9-23, 38 percent). Freshman Kylah Comley’s three-point basket at the buzzer gave Sterling its six-point lead.
The Trojans turned the tables as the second half began, getting back-to-back three-pointers from Addie Lackey in the first 1:42. Sterling still led by four, 29-25, when Danae Bina hit a 17-foot jumper with 2:31 left in the period. The basket ignited an 8-2 run, enabling the Trojans to take a 33-31 lead at quarter’s end.
After Lackey scored on a drive to the basket to start the final period, Tena Loewen tossed in six points with two baskets and two free throws to give the Trojans their 41-37 lead with 4:24 to go. When the shooting went cold, Hillsboro’s undefeated season slipped away..
Loewen, who had to sit out several minutes in the first quarter after picking up two fouls, finished as Hillsboro’s top scorer with 18 points. Lackey added 14.
BOYS – Hillsboro got at least eight points from six players on the way to a season-high 74 points.
The game didn’t seem to be heading that direction in the early going as Sterling built a 7-2 lead in less than two minutes. But a basket by Josh Wiebe at the 6:04 mark ignited a 15-6 scoring surge the remainder of the quarter that gave Hillsboro a 17-13 lead at the first break.
Brett Weinbrenner, who has struggled to find his shooting touch this season, contributed six points in the final four minutes of the quarter to fuel the team. The junior scored seven more points in the second quarter to help the Trojans put together back-to-back 17-point quarters and take a 34-27 lead into halftime.
The third quarter proved to be Hillsboro’s best, as the Trojans outscored the home team 25-13 to take control of the contest. Weinbrenner contributed seven of those points, Harry Faber tossed in two three-point baskets and Tyler Proffitt, playing in only his second game of the season because of an injury, scored on two nice drives to the hole to help the Trojans build a 59-40 bulge by the end of the period.
The two teams more or less traded points through the fourth quarter as Hillsboro sealed the 17-point victory.
Weinbrenner led all scorers with a season-high 23 points. Faber tied his season high with 14 points, and Wiebe tied his with 10. Sophomore Micah Allen didn’t quite break double digits, but he made his biggest offensive contribution so far this season with nine points while Proffitt and Shaq Thiessen each added eight.
Hillsboro will be back at home Friday to host Nickerson. Nickerson’s girls’ team was 0-7 coming into Tuesday night and the boys were 1-6.