ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Showing only occasional evidence of an extended holiday break, the Hillsboro girls took care of winless Nickerson Friday night, 52-29.
After an ice storm delayed Tuesday’s scheduled return to action against El Dorado and kept the Trojans off the practice floor since Monday, the Trojans came out strong against the Panthers (0-7), building a 12-0 lead in the first 61/2 minutes of the game.
Fueled by an effective press, the Trojans had eight points on the board in the first 1:15 of the game. They led 16-2 at the first break.
With just under two minutes to play in the half, Hillsboro led by 20, 26-6. Two baskets by Nickerson’s Sammy McGlynn cut the lead to 16 at intermission, 26-10.
On the verge of a blowout, the Trojans dropped the press in the second half, and more or less maintained their lead the rest of the way.
In the third quarter, Nickerson did get 10 points from Cassie Barber, who drove the lane effectively against the Trojans’ half-court defense.
Even so, the Trojans extended their led by two, 40-22, thanks to a 3-pointer by Megan Peachey with seven seconds left in the third period.
Hillsboro’s biggest lead of 25 points occurred late in the game, following a 6-0 run on baskets by JuliAnne Chisholm and Emily Ratzlaff and a pair of free throws from Amy Duerksen, the latter coming with just 1:09 to play.
Barber added one more bucket to finish with a team-high 12 points. As a team, the Panthers managed only 12 baskets in 44 attempts (27 percent).
Chisholm was at the center of Hillsboro’s attack, finishing with a season-high 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting from the floor and a perfect 4-for-4 at the line.
The 5-foot-10 sophomore was the only Trojan to reach double figures, but she got balanced support from Hannah Marsh with 8, Peachey with 7, Duerksen with 6 and Ratzlaff with 5.
As a team the Trojans made 41 percent of their shots from the floor (20-49), but only one of nine attempts from behind the 3-point line.
The Trojans were sharp at the free-throw line, making 11 of 13, and handled the ball well, committing only eight turnovers after averaging just over 15 per game prior to the holiday break.
“I thought we moved the ball really well,” said coach Becky Carlson. “We made nice passes and were aggressive, but I didn’t think we were over-aggressive. I thought we took good shots and I thought our press worked well as long as we ran it.
“I felt like for not practicing since Monday, we shot the ball pretty well and we made our free throws-I was pleased,” she said.
Carlson said her team made some adjustments in its offensive scheme during the break, and worked on its full-court press. She saw positive results in both areas.
“I thought we did a better job of pressing, but sometimes when we steal the ball we don’t score-we just throw it away. I felt like we did a good job of staying in control of the game.”
Getting back into competition against a struggling opponent had some benefits.
“I was just glad we had a game, and it was good for us to have a game like this where we could work on some things,” Carlson said. “I felt we played well.”
With the win, the Trojans evened their season record at 3-3 but now own a 1-0 mark in the Mid-Central Activities Association.
Coming-The Trojans are schedule for a challenging week. On Tuesday, they took on state-ranked Hesston, which lost its first game of the season Saturday against undefeated Newton.
Results of that game will appear in this week’s Free Press Extra, on newsstands late Thursday afternoon, weather permitting.
On Friday, the Trojans will play host to Lyons, who were 6-2 after last week.
The Jan. 4 game against El Dorado has been rescheduled for Jan. 25.