ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY BRIAN HUXMAN
Going into Saturday?s sub-state championship game against Northern Heights, Hillsboro coach Becky Carlson was concerned about the match up her team faced against Heather Jones and Charisse Symmonds, the Wildcats? two dominant six-footers.
The match-up turned out to be a problem all right, but in reverse fashion. It was the inside play of the Trojans that was the decisive factor in sending Hillsboro to the state tournament with a 52-43 win over Northern Heights, the No. 3 team in Class 3A, according to the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association.
?We didn?t back off of them at all,? Carlson said after the win. ?I thought we did a good job on the boards and we just took the action right at them. They were a very physical team and we just played really tough inside.?
The inside play of Angela Herzet, Heather Matz and Julie Hett was the key to the win. The three Trojan post players combined to score 29 points.
The Trojans led by seven heading into the fourth quarter. Sophomore Shannon Kroeker hit the biggest shot of her career?a 3-pointer that swished the net?on the first play of the quarter to give Hillsboro a 10 point advantage, 44-34.
Northern Heights? senior point guard Carissa VanGundy answered with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 44-37 with 6:44 remaining in the game. But the Trojans turned up the defensive intensity, holding Northern Heights without a field goal for the next 3:40.
?We played with a lot of intensity on the defensive end of the floor,? Carlson said. ?I thought Angela Kroeker did a great job on (Gina Wheat).?
Wheat was coming off a 25-point performance against Southeast of Saline in the semifinals match-up, but scored only 12 against the Trojans. Much of the defensive pressure was applied by Angela and Shannon Kroeker.
With her team trailing by 10, the Wildcats? 6-2 Jones took the game into her own hands, scoring back-to-back buckets in the final two minutes to cut the deficit to 49-43.
Angela Kroeker, who came into the game averaging more than 17 points per game, stepped to the foul line with 56 second remaining with just four points and an uncharacteristic 0-for-4 performance from the free-throw line.
But the senior leader recovered her stroke at the right time, hitting both ends of a one-and-one opportunity and sealing the win.
?We did what we needed to do to win tonight,? Carlson said. ?It feels good (to be headed to state).?
Herzet led the way for Hillsboro with 14 points, while sophomore point guard Jill Hein added 12.
Matz scored nine, Angela Kroeker and Hett six each and Shannon Kroeker added four.
The win improves the Trojans to 20-3 on the season and earns them a spot in the state tournament to be held this week in Hutchinson. Hillsboro opens against Smith Center (19-4) at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday.
For state tournament results, check the Free Press Web site at old.hillsborofreepress.com or call the Free Line at 947-3363.
Osage City?After struggling to pull away in the first half, the Hillsboro Trojan girls advanced to the finals of the sub-state basketball tournament with a win over Osage City, 58-35, Friday.
Hillsboro led 14-9 after the first quarter, then turned up the defense in the final three periods to pull away for the easy win.
?I thought we did a really nice job on defense,? coach Becky Carlson said. ?We also did a good job rebounding.?
The Trojans broke the game open in the second quarter with a barrage of 3-pointers coming from sophomores Jill Hein and Shannon Kroeker, who both finished the contest in double figures.
With the Trojans leading 14-9, Hein hit a trey with 5:32 remaining in the first half to push the Trojan lead to 17-9.
Then, with Hillsboro leading 20-11, Hein hit another 3-pointer with 2:30 left in the second quarter.
Kroeker then added a 3-pointer of her own with 1:24 left in the half to give the Trojans a 27-11 advantage.
Hein hit a jumper off a feed from Dionne Jost at the first-half buzzer and the Trojans went into halftime with a 29-14 advantage.
?When we started moving the ball inside and out, we started having a lot better looks on offense and knocked some (shots) down,? Carlson said. ?Their defense was pretty good. They are quick, but they gave us a lot of looks at the basket, I thought, and that was really the key to the game.?
Hein led Hillsboro with 14 points, followed by Shannon Kroeker with 12 and Angela Kroeker with 11.
Ellsworth?The Hillsboro girls? basketball team has won several games in convincing fashion this season, but Tuesday?s sub-state opener against Ellsworth redefined the concept.
Hillsboro took a 26-1 lead at halftime and went on to win the game 54-22 with a lackluster second half.
After being held scoreless on their first two offensive possessions, Jill Hein hit a jumper from the right elbow of the free throw line with 6:35 left in the first quarter to give the Trojans the lead for good.
?I thought we came out playing very strong and just played a very good first half,? coach Becky Carlson said. ?There have been very few times this season when we have dominated a half like that. I?m glad we played well tonight.?
After running up the big lead, Hillsboro walked through a sluggish second half, outscoring Ellsworth 28-21.
?We didn?t have many turnover and we rebounded well,? Carlson said of her team?s effort. ?I thought we did a good job of moving on team defense, better than some nights. They didn?t get many good looks at the basket, especially in the first half.
As a result of the big win, the Trojans were able to play the entire bench in the victory.
?Most people got in and scored, and I wanted everybody to get in,? Carlson said.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY BRIAN HUXMAN