Defense vaults Hillsboro girls to sub-state title

Defense does win championships, but when both teams play strong defense only one can leave as champions. The Hillsboro girls found just enough offense to get past Remington, 35-21, in the title game of the Class 3A sub-state tournament at Sterling on Saturday.

The two teams battled to an 11-9 standoff through the first quarter — but who knew the first quarter would be the most productive one of the night? The Trojans forced eight Bronco turnovers in the opening period, but had trouble translating them into points as they had the night before in the rout of Sedgwick.

Both teams slipped into a scoring drought in the second period as defense played center stage. Hillsboro managed a 3-point shot from Callie Serene at the 4:06 mark, a basket in the paint by Franny Gottsch with 1:38 left, and finally a layup by Allie Faul off a steal by Candace Weinbrenner with 53 seconds left.

Six points wasn?t much, but it was six more than Remington mustered as the Trojans shut out the Broncos, allowing only two field-goal attempts while forcing 12 more turnovers. The two teams went to the locker room at halftime with Hillsboro leading 18-9.

The scoring drought continued into the third quarter. The Trojans managed only five points: a field goal by Tena Loewen and three free throws from Dakota Kaufman. Remington managed one field goal on seven attempts — ending a scoreless run of 11:30 — but Hillsboro?s 5-2 edge bumped the lead to 23-11 through three quarters.

The two teams traded baskets through the final period; Remington did get within 11 points of the Trojans, but never closer as Hillsboro made six of seven free throws in the final 3:16 as the game wound down.

Hillsboro shot only 33 percent from the floor (12-36) for the game, but made 10 of 13 free throws. Remington could do no better than 31 percent (9-29) and made only five trips to the free-throw line, making three. Kaufman finished with 13 points to lead both teams. Katie Regier pitched in 11 for the Broncos.

?The defense was fantastic,? Hillsboro coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?We did an excellent job defensively. They have two really solid players in (Katie) Regier and (Quin) Tillotson. Their main strength is trying to get to the basket, and I thought we did a good job (of preventing that). The second and third quarters were the key to the game.?

Hiebert praised Remington?s defensive effort against his team.

?They didn?t allow us a lot outside and they really didn?t give us a lot of opportunities for baskets inside either,? Hiebert said. ?They do a great job of making you throw a pass over the top that?s a little slower, and all of a sudden they have time to rotate and be where they need to be.?

Remington finished with 27 turnovers, 20 of them in the first half. Hillsboro committed 15.

With the win, Hillsboro improved to 18-5 and will play in Hutchinson on Thursday, with the opponent and time to be announced Sunday. Remington ends the season 17-6.

Hiebert said he wasn?t surprised his team was heading back to Hutch, even after an 0-3 start to the season.

?The very first meeting I said my expectation was that we make it back to state and get past the first round,? he said. ?I told the girls that?s the potential they we had. I worried a little bit after three first three games, but we were learning a lot of stuff at the start. I like where we are now.?

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