Trojan girls advance to 2nd round

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY DON RATZLAFF

It took a while to get started, but the Hillsboro Trojans overwhelmed Ellsworth in the opening game of the Southeast of Saline Girls Invitational Basketball Tournament Monday, 55-12.


Ellsworth actually took the lead on Samatha Hoffman’s bucket with 6:54 to go in the opening period-and then held it for almost five minutes as the Trojans came out of the gate slowly on the offensive end.


Shannon Kroeker finally broke the ice on a basket with 2:03 left in the period. After Sara Thiessen, 40 seconds later, put HHS on top for good, Kroeker nailed a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left in the period to put the Trojans ahead, 8-3.


Hillsboro continued to struggle offensively but built an 18-8 lead by intermission.


Ellsworth managed two free throws to lead off the third quarter, but Jill Hein’s bucket with 6:38 left ignited a 19-2 run that simply demolished the Bearcats by quarter’s end.


In fact, the Bearcats went scoreless in the final quarter while the Trojans added 18 more points to their already comfortable lead.


Kroeker led the Trojan attack with 12 points while Robyn Penner came off the bench to add a season-high 11.


After their cold start, the Trojans finished the game with a 53.3 field goal percentage, but were only 1-of-9 from 3-point range.


Thiessen pulled down 11 rebounds to go with her seven points.


Helping that shooting percentage were the easy baskets the Trojans scored off the fast break-fueled by the 25 turnovers forced by the defense. Andrea Peachey had a team-high seven.


The Trojans resume action at 8 p.m., Thursday, against Salina South, who defeated Abilene, 47-32, on Monday.


If the Trojans win that game, they will play for the title at 8 p.m., Friday. If the Trojans lose to Salina South, they will play for third at 6:30 p.m., Friday.


What makes this tournament unique is the range in school size. Ell-Saline, who came in as the tournament’s sixth seed at 5-5, is a Class 2A school, while Junction City, seeded sixth at 2-5, is among the state’s largest schools in Class 6A.


The rest of the roster includes Hillsboro, Southeast of Saline (No. 2 seed at 7-3) and Ellsworth (No. 8 at 1-9) from Class 3A, Concordia (No. 3 at 5-2) and Abilene (No. 4 at 6-4) from Class 4A, and Salina South (No. 5 at 5-5) from Class 5A.

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