Hillsboro girls use strong second quarter to get past Black Bears

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
]The Hillsboro girls experienced both feast and famine at Sterling Friday night, but in the end brought enough to the table to walk away with a 39-29 victory.

Nursing a 12-10 lead after one quarter, the Trojans erupted for an 18-3 second quarter to stake a 17-point lead at intermission.

Hannah Marsh started the scoring binge with a 16-footer 18 seconds into the period, then scored again at the 6:30 mark with a steal and a layup.

After Tina Frick made a pair of free throws with 5:06 left, Audrey Weinbrenner took over for Hillsboro. The sophomore, who came in averaging three points a game, scored nine points in the final 3:35, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to boost the Trojans to their 17-point margin.

With two baskets in the opening quarter, Weinbrenner finished the first half with 13 points while Marsh added seven.

“Audrey was definitely on,” coach Melissa Stenfors said. “Without her we would have been in real trouble. We’ve got to have that outside shooting if people are going to play us with a zone.

“She’s a good shooter and we’re going to need that down the stretch because people are going to play us in a zone, pack it in and try to keep us out of the lane.”

Unfortunately for Hillsboro, Weinbrenner came up dry in the second half-but she was in good company, as the Trojans managed a scant nine points over the final two quarters.

Sterling opened the third quarter with a 5-0 run in the first 1:30. Nobody added points until JuliAnne Chisholm scored on a spin move in the lane at the 4:01 mark. A basket by Amy Neufeld with 3:28 to play and a free throw from Jessica Heidel with 17 seconds remaining in the period rounded out the scoring for HHS.

Despite scoring only five points, Hillsboro still led by 14 at the final break, 35-21. The Trojans shot 2-for-12 during the third quarter while Sterling went 3-for-11.

On the offensive end, the game continued to deteriorate for Hillsboro in the final period. Marsh managed a 3-pointer at the 5:00 mark and Samantha Heinrichs made a free throw with 3:21 left to play for Hillsboro’s only points.

Fortunately, Sterling made only four of 20 shots during the quarter and never mounted a serious threat.

Stenfors, who cleared her bench at the 3:59 mark with a 38-23 lead, was frustrated by her team’s play in the second half.

“We’re not doing the fundamentals,” she said. “We’re not reversing the basketball, we’re not being patient on offense. I’m happy with our press, though. We’re getting some good steals off of it.”

Weinbrenner’s 13 first-half points made her the game’s leading scorer. Marsh finished with 10. For the game, Hillsboro made 14 of 40 shots from the floor for 35 percent accuracy, while the Black Bears made 10 of 48 (21 percent).

The win was Hillsboro’s fourth straight, and improved the girls’ season record to 9-6 overall and 4-2 in the league. Sterling dropped to 5-10 and 1-5.

Stenfors took some solace in her team’s play during the first half.

“Halstead (on Tuesday) wasn’t a good game, start to finish until the last two minutes,” she said. “Tonight, we put together two good quarters. Next Tuesday we’ll put together four.”

Coming-Hillsboro was to play host to Smoky Valley on Tuesday. On Friday, the Trojans travel to Haven (8-7, 2-4) for a 6:30 game.

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