ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY DON RATZLAFF
Playing their best half of basketball of the season, the Hillsboro girls dismantled Wichita Collegiate in their own house Friday night, 56-21.
Only the 30-point continuous-clock rule, in force for most of the second half, kept the final score as respectable as it was.
The Trojans (7-1, 3-0) came out sharp on offense, setting up good shots with crisp passing. But it was their swarming, pirhana-like defense that chewed up their opponents.
The Trojans forced 21 first-half turnovers, and in most cases made the Spartans pay for their mistakes on the offensive end.
?Our defense just was awesome tonight,? coach Becky Carlson said. ?Every ball they threw, we got our hands on it, or made them throw it too high. They just played well.?
Jill Hein got the Trojans off to a 3-0 start by nailing her first shot of the night from behind the arc 45 seconds into the game.
By the time the buzzer sounded for intermission, six of her teammates had contributed points, too, including 14 by Angela Kroeker, to give the Trojans a 36-7 cushion.
The Trojan defense allowed only one Spartan field goal over the same span.
Carlson said the key to this game was a bad memory from last season.
?Last year we came down here, we didn?t play very well and we lost,? she said. ?I think the memory was still with these guys. They came out focused and ready to play tonight.?
Hein?s second 3-pointer of the night put the Trojans up 41-10 less than a minute and a half into the third quarter, setting the game clock into continuous motion.
Despite the brevity of the second half, the Trojans continued to build their lead until it swelled to 56-15 with just under two minutes to go.
Kroeker?s 14 points paced the Trojan attack. Hein scored nine in the second half to finish with 13.
Hannah Houlik, who came into the game averaging 17 points a game for Collegiate, was held to seven points and only one field goal.
Halstead?Julie Hett came off the bench to give Hillsboro the offensive and defensive boost needed to lift the Trojans to a 45-37 win over their MCAA Mid Division rivals Friday in Brown Gymnasium.
The 5-9 junior checked into the game after Angela Kroeker picked up two fouls in the first three minutes of the game while guarding Stacy Keller, the Dragon?s All-MCAA performer who was averaging 24 points a game.
Keller already had scored four points, but managed only 11 the rest of the night while Hett scored 10 points of her own.
?Julie Hett came in and did a great job guarding her,? coach Becky Carlson said. ?She has really come on. She didn?t go out (for the team) last year, so I think she?s still finding herself.?
In addition to scoring 10 points, Hett grabbed seven rebounds and three steals.
Her timely contribution came on a night when the Trojans began the game with a scoring deluge that mysteriously turned dry as the game progressed.
Primed by eight points by Angela Kroeker and seven by Jill Hein, including three 3-pointers between them, the Trojans pumped in 24 points in the first period to establish a seven-point lead.
That turned out to be three points more than Hillsboro would score the rest of the game as their shooting touch grew cold.
Despite a strong floor game, the Trojans shot just under 30 percent for the night, and missed several easy baskets along the way.
?We just didn?t finish our shots in the second half,? Carlson said. ?We had great shots, shots in the lane, and good passes to get those shots, and then we just rushed.?
While Hillsboro couldn?t get their good shots to drop, Halstead couldn?t even generate many good shots, thanks to the tenacious Trojan defense.
?I think we?re really aggressive and do a lot of different things,? Carlson said of her team?s defensive effort. ?The guards and posts complement each other very well.?
HHS led by 10 at intermission, and more or less maintained that margin throughout the second half. Halstead pulled as close as seven on a 3-pointer by Shawna Seier with 50 seconds left, but it was too little, too late for the Dragons.
Hein, the Trojans? 5-8 sophomore floor leader, chalked up 13 points and 10 rebounds?both team highs.
For the second straight game, senior Angela Kroeker was held to 10 points, dropping her season average below 20 points for the first time this season at 19.1.
?The last two games…we?ve had somebody else step up and score for us,? Carlson said. ?And that makes a big difference.?