But this time the Trojans couldn’t dig themselves out of it. Hillsboro’s dream of a state championship ended with a 55-45 loss to top-seeded and undefeated Burlington at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
The Trojan got off to a 6-0 start on two free throws and a basket by Tena Loewen and basket in the paint by Danae Bina. But Burlington stepped up from there, thanks in large part to the three-point shooting of Madison Stewart.
Haley Gilman got the Wildcats their first basket at the 5:19 mark, then Stewart hit two threes in a span of about 1:15 to fuel a 10-0 run that ended when Loewen hit a 12-foot basket with 1:36 left in the first quarter.
Burlington, which led 12-9 at the end of the first quarter, was protecting a 14-12 led in the second quarter when Stewart lit it up again from long range. She hit a three on either side of a two-point basket by Breanna Bluma to put the Wildcats on top 22-14 with 3:45 left in the half.
A two-pointer by Stewart with two seconds left in the half gave Burlington a 28-21 lead at intermission.
Points were hard to come by for both teams early in the third period. But when Lackey drilled a three-pointer from the wing at the 3:02 mark, Hillsboro was within five points at 32-27. A surge by Burlington pushed the lead to 39-29, with less than a minute to go, but a traditional three-point play by Bina cut the margin to 39-32 at the end of the quarter.
Trailing 44-35, Hillsboro launched what proved to be its final charge when Lackey hit a basket in the paint with 5:29 to go. She added another basket like it, and Tena Loewen hit a pair of free throws, to pull the Trojans to with 44-41 with 3:45 to play, and then it was 46-43 when Lackey scored a third time in the lane with 2:29 left.
Burlington didn’t score another field goal the rest of the game, but made nine of 10 free throws down the stretch to secure the win with a 9-2 run.
Lackey finished as the Trojans’ top scorer with 19 points and Loewen chipped in 13. Bina added nine points on 4-for-12 shooting. For Burlington, Stewart scored 18 points, with Bluma and Sarah Pearson adding 13 each.
As a team, Hillsboro actually outshot Burlington from the field, 44 percent (15-34) to 42 percent (17-40).
The Trojans will play for third place Saturday against Russell, who lost to Garden Plain, 57-35, in the other semifinal game. The consolation game will begin at noon.