ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro High used some intense defensive pressure in the second quarter to fuel a 48-25 thrashing of Wamego in Monday’s opening round of the Trojan Classic girls’ bracket.
Hillsboro’s Hannah Marsh stole the ball and scored only 17 seconds into the game to get Hillsboro off to a 2-0 start.
But the Trojans didn’t really find their stride until the final three minutes of the opening period.
With Hillsboro leading by a mere 4-3, Tina Frick scored in the paint and was fouled on the play. She missed the free throw, but JuliAnne Chisholm grabbed the carom and scored.
Chisholm scored again 30 seconds later and suddenly the Trojans were leading 10-3 with 2:40 left in the period.
The Trojans hit the first break with a 14-6 lead, then hit the accelerator with a 16-4 advantage in the second period to lead 30-10 by halftime.
When the smoke cleared, Frick had scored 11 of her team-high 15 points for the night and Chisholm was right behind with 10 of her 12.
As a team, the Trojans were shooting just under 50 percent (12-25) by intermission while limiting the Red Raiders to a paltry 2-for-10 performance from the floor, including an 0-for-3 showing in the second quarter.
Fortunately for Hillsboro, the Red Raider found the basket just as elusive early in the second half and could not take advantage of three straight Trojan turnovers and two missed shots.
Instead, Wamego responded with only a pair of free throws and still trailed 30-12 when Hillsboro finally managed its first points of the quarter when Frick scored off an assist from Chisholm with 3:45 showing on the clock.
By the end of the period, Hillsboro had pushed the margin to 38-14 on unanswered baskets by Frick, Chisholm and Marsh.
The Red Raiders suffered their second 0-for quarter of the night, missing all eight shots they took from the floor.
Coach Dale Honeck cleared his bench for most of the final quarter, and this time the Red Raiders did take advantage.
With Stephanie Stroh kicking in seven points, Wamego man aged an 11-10 advantage in the final frame to pick up a meager moral victory.
For the game, the Trojans stayed near 50 percent shooting (21-41) while Wamego made only six of 31 shots for 19 percent.
The Red Raiders did shoot pretty well from the line, though, cashing in 13 of 18 opportunities while Hillsboro made five of 11 attempts.
With the win, the Trojans improved to 7-1 while Wamego remained winless at 0-7.
Hillsboro will take the court at 6:30 p.m. Friday in a semifinals matchup with Republic County (7-2), a 41-27 first-round winner over Thomas More Prep. If the Trojans win, they will play for the championship at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Hesston versus Riley County.
If they lose, the Trojans will play for third at 3 p.m Saturday against the loser of that game.