ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Poor shooting, turnovers, defensive lapses and foul trouble conspired to turn the Hillsboro girls’ dream of a tournament championship into something of a nightmare Saturday as the Trojans dropped a 45-25 decision to Clearwater at the Cheney Classic.
After an 8-8 first quarter, the game appeared to be headed for a championship-worthy finish. But that’s when the fortunes of the two teams took decidedly different turns.
Hillsboro shot blanks the entire second period-0-for-11 from the floor-and was spared a shutout when Lora Andrews made a pair of free throws with 56 seconds left before halftime.
Clearwater, meanwhile, wasn’t setting the world on fire either, with 3-for-15 shooting from the floor. But combined with five made free throws, the effort was enough to give the Indians a 19-10 lead at the half.
In the second half, Clearwater executed its offense better and better, catching the Trojans several times on backdoor feeds.
Meanwhile, JuliAnne Chisholm, Hillsboro’s floor leader and top scorer, was confined to the bench for much of the second and third quarters. Even so, the Trojans stayed within eyesight of the Indians with 5-for-8 shooting in the third quarter.
A 3-pointer by Hannah Marsh pulled HHS to within 23-18 with three minutes left in the quarter. But a 10-4 surge by Clearwater pushed the margin to 33-22 at the final break.
The Indians delivered the knockout blow in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run.
Hillsboro was unable to mount anything resembling a viable response. Chisholm picked up her fifth foul with 4:44 left in the game, and the Trojans made only one of 14 shots in the final quarter.
“It was good to get this far and play in the championship,” coach Dale Honeck said. “But we got bamboozled-that’s all I can say. We couldn’t score and we couldn’t keep the ball long enough to score.
“(Clearwater) executed much better than we did in their offense. They cut us up on the back cuts.
“We just didn’t click.”
On a night when the Trojans shot a miserable 21 percent (9-42) from the floor and went to the foul line only four times, no one broke double digits. Tina Frick led HHS with eight points while Chisholm chipped in seven during her limited time on the court.
Clearwater, meanwhile, shot just under 50 percent from the field (17-35) and made nine of 19 free throws.
“This is a good basketball team,” Honeck said. “They’re going to win a lot of basketball games. They could shoot, they have a nice post player, their offense looked good.”
Smoky Valley-A 24-9 surge in the third quarter carried Hillsboro to a 55-38 pool-play win over Smoky Valley Friday night at Brown Gymnasium.
The explosion came after a couple of see-saw quarters in the first half. A steal and basket by Tina Frick with 3:25 left in the opening quarter ignited a 10-2 run that carried Hillsboro to a 15-5 lead at the first break.
But the Vikings turned the table on Hillsboro in the second period with a 16-5 surge that gave them a 21-20 advantage at intermission.
JuliAnne Chisholm led Hillsboro’s third-quarter assault with 11 of her team-high 19 points. Frick added five points and Hannah Marsh and Dakota Kaufman four each.
Leading 44-30 heading into the final quarter, Hillsboro limited the Vikings to 2-for-10 shooting from the floor while the Trojans sank seven of nine free throws to post the 17-point victory.
Rhys Pihl was the Vikings’ primary weapon with 22 points, including three 3-pointers from NBA distance.
“The Pihl girl was a handful for us, but then I think we became a little more aware of her and were able to keep the press up,” coach Dale Honeck said. “That took her out of their offense quite a bit.”
For the game, Hillsboro held the Vikings to 29 percent shooting from the field (11-38) while the Trojans shot nearly 60 percent (22-37). Frick added 11 points to Hillsboro’s total while freshman point guard Samantha Soyez chipped in eight.
Coming-Hillsboro took a 2-1 record to Halstead on Tuesday in a game against the 1-2 Dragons.
On Friday, HHS will play host to Nickerson (2-2) before rounding out its pre-holiday schedule with a game on the road against the defending Class 3A champions, Wichita Collegiate.