Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 19 February 2013 13:44
The Hillsboro girls took a huge step toward at least a share of the Central Kansas League crown, as well as securing the top seed in next week’s sub-state tournament, with a 46-39 win at Haven Friday night.
The Trojans came in tied with Hesston for the league lead at 6-1 and sporting a 16-2 season record. Haven was a game back in league play at 5-2 and 15-3 overall. What’s more, both teams are assigned to the sub-state tournament in Hillsboro and were vying for the top seed.
The two teams were neck and neck in the early going, but with Hillsboro leading 9-8, Addie Lackey scored three unanswered baskets on nice drives into the lane. Danae Bina followed with a steal and a basket. Suddenly the Trojans led 17-8 as the first quarter ended.
That surge proved to be pivotal as the two teams slipped back into a trading-baskets mode for most of the rest of the game.
By halftime, the Trojans had nudged the lead to 10 points at 28-18. Tena Loewen chipped in 10 points to pace the Trojans and Bina added eight.
Six points from Lackey and four from Loewen helped the Trojans build their largest lead of the night as the third quarter ended with a 38-25 score.
But Haven didn’t wilt. After Loewen completed a three-point play at the 5:29 mark of the fourth quarter to push the lead back to 13 at 41-28, the Wildcats launched a 6-0 run to pull within seven at 41-34 with 3:20 to go, energizing the home crowd.
But Lackey stepped up with another penetration basket with 1:55 to play. After Haven’s top scorer, Ashley Rogers, missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:27 to go, Loewen made one of two free throws at the other end to bump the lead to 44-34.
A three by Haven’s Hailey Davis pulled the home team back to within seven, but only 33 seconds remained. Despite twice missing front-end free throws in the final 31 seconds, the Trojans held on for the seven-point win.
Loewen finished with 20 points and Lackey 14. Davis scored 20 to pace the Wildcats.
“Haven’s not an easy place to play,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “They’re a very physical ball club, and they’ve played some tough teams—it’s not a soft 15-3 (record).”
Hiebert said Loewen’s play on both ends of the court was critical. Her defense limited Rogers to eight points thanks in part to foul trouble.
“When you can get one of their best players in foul trouble, it’s really going to put them on their heels,” Hiebert said.
On offense, Loewen was a go-to player for the Trojans.
“We talked a lot about attacking the basket,” Hiebert said. “Haven doesn’t have a lot of size. Tena is very strong, she’s athletic, and she exposed some of their weaknesses early. The girls kept giving it to her. I was pleased with how we executed that.”
Halstead—Coming off a tough loss to Hesston the previous Friday, and knowing a key matchup with Haven was looming, it would have been understandable if the Trojans simply went through the motions in their game against Halstead last Tuesday.
That didn’t happen. The Trojans were focused and ferocious on the way to a 66-30 drubbing of the visiting Dragons.
Hillsboro dominated the Dragons out of the gate even though the Trojans led by only eight after one quarter, 19-11.
Turning up the defense another notch, Hillsboro shut out the Dragons for the first 5:11 of the second quarter while racking up 12 points to take a 31-11 lead. By halftime the lead stood at 32-17.
The Trojans were at their peak during the third quarter, limiting the Dragons to two three-point baskets and a free throw while throwing in 22 points to claim a 56-24 margin by the end of the quarter.
With coach Nathan Hiebert subbing deeply after the first minute of the fourth quarter, the Trojans cruised to the 36-point victory.
Hiebert said the game had a “weird” feel to it as Halstead attempted to slow the pace, as Hesston had done the previous game.
“We didn’t have as many possessions as we sometimes do in a game,” he said. “So possessions become really important.
“We had some really good stretches where, defensively, we got some stops, we got some turnovers, we got some easy buckets and inside-out shots.
“We knocked down shots at the times we needed to. I was really pleased with how we played.”
Four Trojans finished in double figures, led by Tena Loewen with 16. Danae Bina was right behind with 14 and Maci Schlehuber and Addie Lackey each added 10. Lackey also contributed six assists and four steals.
As a team Hillsboro shot 54 percent from the floor (26-48) while Halstead made 38 percent (11-29).
Sydney Beat scored 14 to lead Halstead, who slipped to 2-5 in the league and 7-11 overall.
Coming—Hillsboro (7-1, 16-3) was scheduled to complete the regular season Tuesday at Kingman (3-5, 6-12).
The girls will begin sub-state play Monday as the No. 1 seed. Joining the field will be Marion, Southeast of Saline, Haven, Sacred Heart, Lyons, Halstead and Hutchinson Trinity.
The semifinals and finals will be played at Hillsboro. Seedings will be posted at hillsborofreepress.com as soon as they become available