|Samantha Heinrichs goes up for a shot against Sterling’s Heather Davis. The HHS senior contributed eight points to the victory.|
“This is huge,” Hiebert said. “After losing that many in a row, you could tell at times tonight that it was a confidence thing when shots weren’t going down. We were forcing stuff and stressing about that it’s got to go in, it’s got to go in.
“It’s a great win because it boosts morale a little bit, and hopefully we get on a roll the rest of the season.”
The Trojans, 6-9 overall and 3-3 in the MCAA, built a 9-2 lead through the first 4:30 of the game before settling for a 9-8 advantage at the initial break. It took a basket by Dakota Kaufman with 8 seconds left in the half to put Hillsboro back on top, 16-15, at intermission.
When Amy Neufeld started the second half with a traditional 3-point play and Amanda Faber followed with a 3-point basket a little more than a minute later, Hillsboro had some breathing room at 22-15.
A 3-pointer by Samantha Heinrichs and a free throw by Kaufman in the final 50 seconds of the third quarter gave Hillsboro its biggest margin, 31-21, heading into the final quarter.
But Sterling then launched a 9-0 run through the first 3 minutes of the final period to pull within a point at 31-30.
“We haven’t had a lead for a while and I think it was a real shock at first,” Hiebert said. “The other thing is. Sterling doesn’t quit. They keep coming and keep coming.”
Hillsboro regrouped and managed enough free throws (eight of 14) down the stretch to fend off the Black Bears, who committed five turnovers over the same span.
The Trojans finished with a chilly shooting percentage of 27 percent (11-38) from the floor and were out-rebounded 35-25. Their advantage from the free-throw line—17 of 32 to 9 of 20 for Sterling—proved to be the difference.
“I’d rather come away from those things with a win than a loss,” Hiebert said of the shooting struggle. “We’re getting some good shots, we’re just not knocking some down.”
Neufeld led the Trojan attack with 14 points, including eight of 11 free-throw attempts. Kaufman broke double digits with 11.
Coming—Hillsboro was to square off at home against Nickerson on Tuesday with a chance to avenge a non-league loss to the Panthers in early January.
The Trojans will then travel to Halstead (7-7, 3-3) on Friday before playing the next night at Wichita Collegiate (10-3, 5-1) in a makeup game from Feb. 5.