Hillsboro girls pick up victory over depleted Marion squad

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
A reinvigorated Hillsboro girls’ team took advantage of a depleted Marion squad for a 65-45 win at Brown Gymnasium on Friday.

The Trojans trailed only once in the game when Marion’s Toni Gordon sank a pair of free throws for a 4-3 Warrior lead at the 6:08 mark,

But when Tina Frick made the first of four baskets in the quarter, Hillsboro led 5-4 and would slowly but steadily pull away from the Warriors as the game wore on.

By the end of the quarter, Marion was very much in contention with a 12-9 deficit. But the Warriors, who started the game with essentially six varsity players after losing starter Megan Hudson to a knee injury last week, found the ranks grow even thinner when Erin Carr picked up her third foul in the final three minutes of the period.

Carr was whistled with her fourth foul with 4:28 left in the second quarter.

“Megan’s ACL has gone out, so we don’t know where that’s leading,” Warrior coach Daryl Enos said. “That hurt us. We’re thin, real thin.”

By halftime, Hillsboro led 32-20, using its full-court pressure to force 10 second-quarter turnovers. With six of the their nine baskets coming in the paint, including a pair of layups on steals, the Trojans were shooting a blistering 67 percent for the quarter and 61 percent (14-23) for the half.

“That’s the result of our fast break,” Trojan coach Melissa Stenfors said. “You get layups, it pays off.”

Enos said he told his girls to play aggressively in the second half.

“I said we need to play boldly-we have nothing to lose and everything to prove,” he said. “We talked about that before the game, because I honestly think we have enough good kids that we can play with a lot of teams. But we tend to get a little rattled, and we start making some basic mistakes, which just compounds things.”

Unfortunately for Marion, the latter proved to be the case in the early minutes of the second half as Hillsboro smothered any hope of a second-half comeback with an 11-1 run over the first 4:24 of the period. Frick scored six of those points in the paint.

When Amy Neufeld nailed a pair of free-throws with 1:05 left in the period, the Trojans led 49-24. Allie Maddox made two free throws and Gordon added a basket in the lane in the final 51 seconds to cut the lead to 21 at the final break.

The two teams played evenly in the fourth quarter as both coaches cleared their respective benches in the final minutes.

Stenfors said she was pleased with her team’s play as the Trojans posted their third straight victory to improve to 7-6 for the season and 2-2 in league play.

“You always wonder how you’ll come out after you’ve been off for five days (following the Trojan Classic),” she said.

“They’re finding out what they’re capable of doing now,” Stenfors said about her team’s defense, which fueled the offense by forcing 28 turnovers for the game.

“It’s all falling together and things are really starting to click. They’re starting to know each other better and their chemistry is starting to gel more.”

Hillsboro actually improved its shooting efficiency in the second half and finished at 64 percent (28-44) for the game. Frick finished with a season-high 15 points while JuliAnne Chisholm and Hannah Marsh each added 12.

Marion finished with 37 percent (16-48) shooting for the game. Gordon and Maddox each scored 18 points to lead the team, even though Stenfors said her team focused on stopping the duo’s inside-outside strengths.

“We tried to combat both of those (players), and we did talk a lot about that in practice the past couple of days,” Stenfors said.

The loss dropped Marion’s season record to 4-8 overall and 0-4 in the league.

“We’ve got some good players,” Enos said. “It’s a confidence deal as much as anything. We work a lot on fundamentals in practice. We just need to start doing them in the game.”

Coming-Hillsboro was schedule to play host to Halstead on Tuesday. A report of that game will appear in this week’s Free Press Extra.

On Friday, the Trojans will travel to Sterling to take on the Black Bears (5-8, 1-3).

Marion was scheduled to play host to Smoky Valley on Tuesday and will travel to Nickerson (6-7, 1-3) on Friday.

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