Marion’s Julia Zeiner makes a baseline move against Hillsboro’s Kassidi Luthi (33) as Samantha Heinrichs (5) and Tiffany Rooker (4) close in to assist. Zeiner scored 15 for Marion.
The Warriors cashed in those gifts with a convincing 67-55 win in likely the last varsity game to be played in the old “Marion Square Garden.”
The game was statistically even in most areas, but the Trojans’ generosity—24 turnovers and 38 free throws—was their Achilles’ heel.
That said, the host Warriors created a lot of their windfall with superior guard play, particularly in the front court.
That was most true in the first half, when Hillsboro committed 16 of its turnovers. That, combined with 19 points from Warrior guard Lindsay Hett, created a 31-22 hole for HHS by intermission.
The second quarter proved to be pivotal. The Warriors, leading 15-14 at the start of it, harassed the Trojans into 1-for-9 shooting from the floor and nine turnovers. Steals by Hett led directly to seven Warrior points.
“We panicked a little bit and threw passes that we’ve worked on time and time again not to throw,” Trojan coach Nathan Hiebert said. “When you’re in a game sometimes, you just want to throw them.”
To their credit, the Trojans slowed the bleeding in the third quarter, primarly by stepping up their defense. Marion made only four of 16 shots during the period. Even so, the lead grew to 46-33 with a 5-0 Warrior burst in the final 41 seconds, capped by a 3-pointer by Kayley Heerey with 2 seconds left.
With Dakota Kaufman scoring six points, Hillsboro used an 8-2 start in the fourth quarter to cut the margin to 50-44 with 5:56 left in the game.
As it turned out, the Warriors didn’t score another field goal the rest of the game, but they found more than enough nourishment at the free-throw line. Marion made 16 of 18 attempts during the period, including six straight in the final 23 seconds.
For the game, Marion sank 26 of 38 charities compared to Hillsboro’s 16 of 20. The Warriors committed only 14 turnovers to Hillsboro’s 24.
With seven second-half points, Hett finished with 26 for the night on 8-for-14 shooting, including four of five 3-point attempts.
Kaufman matched Hett’s productivity for HHS with a career-high 26, including 16 in the second half. She added a career-best 12 rebounds to register her third double-double of the season.
For Marion, Julia Zeiner made only two of 10 shots from the floor but more than made up for it by bagging 11 of 15 free throws to finish with 15 points.
For Hillsboro, senior Samantha Heinrichs finished her Trojan career with an all-time-high 14 points.
Hillsboro’s two other senior starters endured a tougher finale. Amy Neufeld, averaging 9 points per game, finished with 2 on Tuesday, missing all six of her shots from the floor before fouling out in the closing seconds.
Amanda Faber finished with eight points, but committed a team-high six turnovers.
“Our seniors are top-notch,” Hiebert said. “They bought into the system and worked their tails off every day at practice and in games. We’re definitely going to miss them.
“Samantha stepped up tonight, but we have had many games when Amy and Amanda have stepped up. And they play great defense. We’ll definitely miss all three of them. They’re great girls.”
The Trojans finsihed the season, the first for Hiebert as coach, with a 9-12 mark overall and tied for fifth in the MCAA with a 6-5 mark.
“There’s definitely been some challenges at times, but it’s been an honor to coach at Hillsboro and an honor to coach these girls,” Hiebert said about his first season.
“I’ve got quality girls on this ball club and I’d choose them any day. I’m excited about the opportunity to continue to coach these girls.”