ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY LINDSAY NUSZ
The Hillsboro High School girls further solidified their qualifications as an MCAA contender with a come-from-behind 53-45 win over a talented Haven squad Friday night in Brown Gymnasium.
Both teams entered the game with only one loss on their season record, and Haven was riding a three-year winning streak over the Trojans.
?It was a huge victory for us,? said coach Becky Carlson. ?This would have been the fourth year in a row that Haven beat us if we wouldn?t have won. We needed this victory.?
It didn?t come easy for the Trojans. In the first half, Haven shut out Hillsboro?s Angela Kroeker, who had come into the game averaging 22.8 points per contest, and led at intermission 26-21.
?Haven knew they had to stop Angela Kroeker, and they did in the first half,? Carlson said.
Hillsboro built a 5-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game on a 2-pointer by Julie Hett and a 3-pointer by Jill Hein. But, sparked by eight points from Jenilee Staib, their 5-10 All-MCAA forward-center, the Wildcats nosed in front 12-10 at the end of the first quarter.
The Wildcats expanded their lead to 18-10 before Angela Herzet scored with five minutes to play in the half. Herzet scored six points in the second quarter to keep the Trojans in contention.
Angela Kroeker finally scored her first points with 7:17 left in the third quarter when she knocked down a 3-pointer, cutting Haven?s lead to two. She traded baskets with Haven players two more times before the Wildcats called time out to regroup.
With time back in, Hein stole the ball and scored to tie the game at 30. Shannon Kroeker was fouled a few ticks later and put the Trojans ahead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game by hitting one of two free throws.
The game went back and forth into the fourth quarter, when Angela Kroeker?s basket put Hillsboro on top for good 39-37. Hillsboro, aided by several missed Wildcat free throws down the stretch, led by as many as 11 late in the contest.
In addition to their aggressive defense, another key to the Trojans? win was their ability to protect the ball. They finished with only nine turnovers.
?Going into the game we knew we had to keep our turnovers down and keep them from being overly aggressive on the boards,? Carlson said. ?We did that, and this was a great win for us.?
Shannon Kroeker came off the bench to lead Hillsboro with 13 points. Herzet added 12, Hein 11 and Angela Kroeker finished with 10. Hein also had six steals and four assists.
?Everyone who played tonight really contributed,? Carlson said. ?Jacey Boese had seven boards, and although they held Angela Kroeker to 10 points, she had three assists.?
After a key game with division challenger Halstead yesterday, the Trojans will face Wichita Collegiate on Friday night. Results of the Halstead game are posted on the Free Press Web site.