The victory kept Hesston, 10-3 overall, tied for the league lead at 5-0. Hillsboro, suffering its fifth straight loss, dropped to 5-9 and 2-3.
The Swathers had used a 9-0 run midway through the second quarter to push a tentative 12-11 lead to a 10-point spread. By halftime the lead was 29-16.
“We had a good first quarter,” said coach Nathan Hiebert, whose team trailed 9-8 at the break. “In the second quarter we started off well, but I think we got tired and lost our mental focus and allowed it to get away from us.”
Coming out of halftime, the Trojans stepped up their defensive intensity, holding Hesston scoreless for 6:30 of the third quarter. The Swathers committed nine turnovers and missed all six of their field-goal attempts during that span.
But the Trojans had problems of their own on the offensive end, and did not manage a point until Kassidi Luthi made one of two free throws at the 3:31 mark.
Amy Neufeld scored in the paint with 2:05 left in the quarter and Luthi and Samantha Heinrichs each added a free throw to give the Trojans five points for the quarter while the Swathers scored three in the final 1:31.
That left the Trojans with a 32-21 deficit heading into the final period. Hillsboro cut the lead to 39-34 with 3:31 left, thanks to a seven-point scoring explosion by Amanda Faber over a 54-second span.
But after a time out, the Trojans made only one of seven field-goal attempts the rest of the game while the Swathers countered with seven of eight free throws in the final 2:21 to secure the victory.
“I was very proud by how we came back in the second half, but it’s pretty evident that we have to play a full game all out,” Hiebert said.
As for his the offensive struggle, Hiebert said his team may have tried to do too much too quickly.
“We knew we wanted to get back into that ball game,” Hiebert said. “It’s tough because you want to do it right then, so you kind of start forcing things. rather than having patience and trusting that (the shot) is going to be wide open when it comes.”
Even with their third-quarter drought, the Swathers shot nearly 54 percent (15-28) from the field for the game while the Trojans managed 31 percent (12-39).
Hillsboro’s Dakota Kaufman led all scorers with 15 points. Mallory Schroeder, the only other player to break double figures for either team, led Hesston with 11.
Haven—A strong start propelled Haven to a comfortable 50-21 homecourt victory over Hillsboro on Tuesday night.
The Trojans actually struck first when Samantha Heinrichs nailed a 7-foot jumper in the lane. But a traditional three-point play by Wildcat guard Paula Stucky ignited a 9-0 run that carried Haven to a 22-5 lead at the first break.
By halftime, Haven had nudged the margin to 34-24 and by the end of three quarters inflated it to 45-18. When Noell Nordstedt started the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws followed by a layup off a steal, Haven was up by 31 points, setting in motion the continuous-clock rule.
The Trojan offense never got on track in this game, accumulating more turnovers (22) than field-goal attempts (21) and scoring more points from the free-throw line (11) than from the field (10).
Dakota Kaufman had three of Hillsboro’s five made baskets and scored 12 points. Only three other Trojans managed to score, with Kassidi Luthi being the most productive with five points coming off the bench.
Haven, effective from the perimeter as well as in the lane, made 53 percent of its shots, including five of 10 3-point attempts to improve to 9-3 for the season and 4-0 in the league.
The Trojans slipped to 5-8 and 2-2.
“I thought Haven played very well,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “They shot the ball extremely well to start off and their confidence and energy definitely helped change the game.
“We did some things all right at times, and offensively had some situations that we got some great shots, but just didn’t finish. I think the difference was (Haven) had a little more experience and played with more confidence.”
Coming—Hillsboro was scheduled to take on the state-ranked Collegiate girls on Tuesday. On Friday, they will travel to Sterling to take on the Black Bears (3-10, 1-4).