Written by Don Ratzlaff Saturday, 09 March 2013 17:40
With disappointment still lingering from a loss in the semifinals the night before, the Hillsboro girls proved their resilience and character with a convincing 59-44 victory over Russell to claim third place at the Class 3A state tournament in Hutchinson.
This is the third straight year the Trojans have fulfilled the challenge of putting the dream of a state championship behind them one night and coming back in less than 16 hours to end their season with an impressive victory in the consolation matchup.
For junior point guard Danae Bina, Saturday’s win was part redemption and part determination on the heels of a below-par game the previous night. Bina, who scored nine points on 3-12 shooting and committed seven turnovers in the semifinal loss, scored 21 points, distributed three assists and didn’t turn over the ball once against Russell.
Saturday’s game started eerily similarly to Friday night’s. The Trojans got off to an 6-0 start, only to see the Broncos rally behind a hot shooter, in this case Madison Beagley, to jump back into contention for most of the first half.
Hillsboro led 11-7 after one quarter, but with Beagley scoring five points in the first quarter and four more in the first 1:30 of the second quarter, the Broncos pulled into as 13-13 tie when Russell’s Janna Schulte scored in the lane at the 5:37 mark.
But Bina responded for Hillsboro with a three-point basket from the top of the key to give the Trojans a lead they would never relinquish. Hillsboro went on to finish the pivotal quarter with a 20-9 to surge capped by an 8-0 run in the final 1:37. The Trojans seemed in control by halftime with a 33-22 lead -- despite 17 points from Beagley.
Hillsboro’s defensive adjustments -- particularly the outstanding play of senior Tena Loewen -- limited Beagley to only three points in the second half. Even though the Trojans managed only two points over the first 6:11 of the third period, Russell could only close the gap to 35-28.
A free throw from Bina with 1:49 left sparked an 8-2 Hillsboro run to the end the third quarter. It was capped by a traditional three-point play by Loewen with 5.4 seconds remaining that gave the Trojans a 44-32 cushion as the quarter ended.
If there was any doubt which team was in control, Bina and the Trojans settled the issue in the final quarter. Bina tossed in eight more points over a three-minute stretch, giving Hillsboro a 54-39 lead with 4:21 to play. Coach Nathan Hiebert cleared his bench with 27 seconds left as his team formalized the victory.
To complement Bina’s performance, Loewen finished her Trojan career with 16 points and eight rebounds. Senior Maci Schlehuber added nine points, including a pair of three-pointers, and junior Addie Lackey contributed eight points and a team-high six assists.
With the win, the Hillsboro girls complete an outstanding season with a 23-3 record -- the best season yet in Hiebert’s six years at the helm.