That simply didn’t happen for the Trojans, who struggled through the second and third quarters and came up on the short end of a 47-35 score.
The Trojans were within striking distance at 11-7 after one quarter, but 1-for-9 shooting from the floor, 0-for-5 shooting from the free-throw line and five turnovers in the second period enable the Spartans to take control by halftime at 23-9.
The Trojans kept pace through the first half of the third quarter, but turnovers on seven consecutive possessions over the span of about two minutes enabled Collegiate to inflate its lead to 42-21 by the end of the period.
To their credit, the Trojans battled much more effectively in the fourth quarter and whittled the lead to the final 12-point spread.
“The second and third quarters I was not pleased with how we focused mentally—we made mistakes we normally shouldn’t make,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “I just told them, ‘I want to win the fourth quarter, I don’t care what’s happened before this.’ So, I was proud with how we finished it.”
Dakota Kaufman, who provided Hillsboro’s spark on offense all evening, finished with 19 points.
With the loss, the Trojans still sport a winning record in league play at 5-4 and stand 8-10 for the season. Collegiate, playing without the services of standout freshman Alisha Woods, improved to 8-1 and 15-3.
Halstead—A second-quarter surge propelled Hillsboro to a 48-35 win over the home team Friday to give the Trojans three straight wins.
The game was tied at 6 after one quarter. Hillsboro took the lead for good at 10-9 when Dakota Kaufman scored in the paint with 4:16 left in the second period. She and Amy Neufeld combined for nine more points and Samantha Heinrichs chipped in a basket to give Hillsboro a 21-11 edge by halftime.
“Both offensively and defensively, the girls just started executing what we were trying to do,” coach Nathan Hiebert said of the quarter. “The posts set some good screens for our guards, and our guards got some good looks and some easy buckets. That got our confidence going.”
The margin between the two teams didn’t vary much the rest of the night even though Halstead stepped up its pressure defense. Hillsboro made eight of 12 free throws over the last 3:43 to thwart any chance of a Dragon comeback in the fourth quarter.
Neufeld led the way for Hillsboro with 17 points while Kaufman added 13.
Nickerson—This game was all about defense as the Trojans outlasted the Panthers 29-22 last Tuesday in Brown Gymnasium to avenge a 16-point loss Jan. 7.
The game was tied at 6 after one quarter, but Nickerson took a 15-11 lead into the locker room at halftime. By the end of the third quarter, the Trojans had climbed back to within one point, 16-15.
Hillsboro took its first lead of the night 19 seconds into the fourth quarter when Amy Neufeld sank a couple of free throws. But it was a 3-point basket by Amanda Faber 1:20 later that gave the Trojans a relatively sizable lead at 21-17.
Nickerson pulled back into a tie at 22 with 3:25 to play. But the Trojans shut down the Panthers the rest of the way and scored seven points to claim the victory.
“We came into the game knowing they had a strong inside game and they like to penetrate,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “Early on I thought we did some nice things, but the zone started working so we kind of went back into it. We hadn’t practiced tons with that, but the girls did a nice job with that.”
The Trojans held the Panthers to 21 percent shooting while managing 33 percent (9-27). Faber led the Trojans with 10 points.
Coming—The Trojans will tie the bow on their regular season this week. They were scheduled to play host to Lyons (1-16, 0-8) on Tuesday, then will host Smoky Valley (10-6, 4-4) on Friday.
Post-season play begins next week with the sub-state tournament at Brown Gymnasium this year. The first round of play is always on the home court of the higher seed. The Free Press will post the pairings on its Web site as soon they become available.
Joining Hillsboro in the eight-school field are Southeast of Saline, Halstead, Hutchinson Trinity, Lyons, Marion, Sedgwick and Remington.
“I feel our sub-state is wide open,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “If we get on a roll here, good things could happen.”