ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro girls sprinted to an early lead in its Trojan Classic championship battle with Riley County on Saturday. But it turned out the Falcons had a kick of their own and eventually outlasted the Trojans, 57-54.
With Tina Frick scoring six points in the post and JuliAnne Chisholm coming off her school-record output the previous night with five points, Hillsboro bolted to a 15-6 lead after one quarter.
But Riley County turned the tables on the Trojans-and more-in the second quarter. Getting points from five players, including six from their solid post player Tiffany Bulk, the Falcons soared into the lead with a 22-7 surge that gave them a 28-22 advantage at the break.
Both Frick and Chisholm were shut out in the quarter. Amy Neufeld scored the only two baskets in the period until Samantha Soyez buried a 3-pointer with 36 seconds left.
Hillsboro never regained the lead, but it never exceeded eight points until it reached nine when Lainey Uphoff drained a 3-pointer with 4:40 left in the third period.
But Chisholm followed with a layup off a steal, Frick added a traditional three-point play and Candace Weinbrenner hit a 17-footer with 3:21 to play to cut the lead to two points, 34-32.
Hillsboro pulled to within a single point in the final period when a basket by Frick and a total of three free throws by Chisholm and Neufeld cut the margin to 40-39 with 5:20 to play.
But Riley struck back with what proved to be the fatal blow when Uphoff and Katie Henry hit back-to-back 3-pointers over a span of 49 seconds to bump the lead back to 46-39.
Neither team scored again until Uphoff hit a pair of free throws with 2:15 to go-starting an 11-for-16 run at the free-throw line that carried the Falcons to the victory.
When Henry followed Uphoff’s two tosses with one of her own, Riley had its largest lead of the night at 49-39.
Soyez sank a pair of 3-pointers in the final 1:38 and Neufeld hit one of her own at the buzzer to help cut the final margin to 57-54.
Frick finished as the Trojans’ leading scorer with 14, Chisholm followed with 12 and Neufeld and Soyez each scored nine.
As a team, Hillsboro made 21 of 55 shots from the floor for 38 percent while the Falcons made 18 of 40 for 45 percent. Uphoff, Henry and Bulk led Riley County with 20, 14 and 11 points, respectively.
The loss dropped Hillsboro to 8-2 for the season while Riley County improved to 9-2.
Republic County (semifinals)- JuliAnne Chisholm scored a girls’ school record 40 points as Hillsboro bested Republic County, 62-49, in their semifinals matchup.
The standout senior was productive throughout the game, scoring 11, 8, 13 and 8 points through the four quarters.
With 4-for-4 free-throw shooting in the final 13.4 seconds of the game, Chisholm was able to break the record of 39 points set by Grace Jaworsky in 1975.
“I want to make sure everyone understands that no one can get 40 points by yourself, and Juli knows that,” coach Dale Honeck said. “When anyone scores that many points, you know you have a good team effort. Some people are doing the right things.”
Indeed, Hillsboro jumped to a 20-5 lead after one quarter. Consecutive baskets by Chisholm, Hannah Marsh and Tina Frick gave the Trojans a 6-0 lead in the first minute of contest. A free throw by Frick followed by a steal and layup by Chisholm capped the quarter with a 5-0 run.
But the tables turned for Hillsboro in the second quarter. Fueled by eight points from the Buffaloes’ 6-foot-3 post Amanda Pierson, Republic County cut the lead to 32-24 by halftime.
“We jumped into the lead with good, aggressive, man-to-man pressure, then we kind of got away from that and we weren’t all in sync,” Honeck said.
“In the second half we said we’re going to go back and press every minute of that game,” he added. “We felt our strength was pressure, and felt their weakness was ball-handling because they had thrown 19 balls away in their last game against (TMP).
The strategy worked, particularly in the last 3:05 when Hillsboro forced three consecutive turnovers and scored 10 unanswered points to push the lead back to 15 at 47-32.
The two teams played more or less even in the final period, but a 12-3 Buffalo run closed the margin to 56-46 with 1:42 to go. A basket by Marsh and Chisholm’s final four free throws were more than enough to ensure the win.
Chisholm got a chance to break the record thanks in part to Republic County. With Chisholm sitting on 38 points after her first two free throws at the 13.4 mark, Mandi Valek responded with a 3-pointer and Republic County coach Doug Lull called an immediate timeout with 4.4 seconds on the clock.
Honeck, who didn’t know Chisholm was threatening a scoring record until late in the quarter, gave her a chance to break it. Lora Andrews threw a baseline pass two-thirds the length of the floor to a sprinting Chisholm, who grabbed the ball and was fouled as she attempted a layup with 1.6 seconds left.
For the game, Chisholm made 16 of 25 shots from the field, including two of three from behind the arc. She added six free throws in nine attempts.
As a team, the Trojans shot nearly 48 percent (22-46) from the floor and limited their turnovers to 12.
“That was fun,” Honeck said of the game. “The kids worked hard, all of them did. And they hit free throws (16-23) tonight. We shot well and the kids who came off the bench did a good job.”
Coming-With an 8-2 season mark, Hillsboro was scheduled to host Ellinwood on Tuesday for a makeup game from Jan. 12. On Friday, they will play at Marion (2-8). Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.