Written by Don Ratzlaff Friday, 09 March 2012 18:44
Like a row boat battling a changing tide, the Hillsboro girls saw their dream of a state championship slowly but surely drift beyond their grasp Friday as Burlington claimed a 52-38 victory in the Class 3A state semifinals at Hutchinson.
The No. 3-seeded Trojans started strong against No. 2 Burlington when Callie Serene hit a pair 3-point baskets and Krista Reimer added a score in the paint for an 8-2 lead midway through the opening period. But four turnovers and four missed shots by Hillsboro helped Burlington grab a 10-9 edge at the first break.
A key sequence developed when Burlington’s Sydney Ledom hit a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left, Hillsboro turned ball over and the Wildcats’ Haley Gilman managed a basket with 5 seconds showing for a four-point blow.
To their credit, the Trojans climbed back into the lead as Addie Lackey hit three straight shots in the first 1:30 of the second quarter for a 15-12 advantage. Serene added her third 3-pointer of the half at the 2:20 mark to keep the Trojans in front at halftime, 18-16.
The tide began to shift in the third quarter. Hillsboro got a free throw by Lackey, but Burlington turned a traditional 3-point play by Breanna Bluma, a quick turnover by Hillsboro and a 3-point basket by Bluma into a 22-19 lead over a span of 22 seconds.
The Trojans remained below sea level the rest of the way, but kept within striking distance through the rest of the quarter. Courtney Weber’s 3-pointer at the buzzer pulled HHS to within 35-31.
When Maci Schlehuber drained a 3-pointer at the 6:34 mark of the fourth quarter, the Trojans were within two at 37-35. But Burlington took control with a critical 6-0 surge on a pair of free throws by Sarah Pearson and consecutive baskets by Jackie O’Connor on either side of another Trojan turnover.
Leading by 10 at 45-35 with 3:50 to go, Burlington began running time off the clock, forcing Hillsboro to foul to get the Wildcats to the charity stripe. But once Hillsboro achieved that at the 1:35 mark, the Wildcats kept Hillsboro at bay by making five of seven charity tosses while the Trojans made only one of five field-goal attempts in response.
Serene and Lackey, whose scoring was sorely missed in Hillsboro’s first-round win, finished as the team’s top scorers in this game with 11 points a piece. As a team the Trojans shot 37 percent from the floor and made 19 of 26 free throws.
Bluma led all scorers with 14 and O’Connor added 10 as the Wildcats made 49 percent of their shots. But the key stat of the game was turnovers. Burlington committed only eight while the Trojans were guilty of 18 for the second straight game.
With the loss, the Trojans (22-3) will play for third place at noon Saturday against the loser of the other semifinal game between Atchison County (23-1) and Silver Lake (20-4).