Hillsboro falls in state tournament opener

A dry spell of nearly nine minutes that started late in the second quarter proved to be too much to overcome as the Hillsboro High School girls lost Wednesday to No. 1 seeded Southwestern Heights, 49-38, in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament in Hutchinson.

The Trojans showed themselves to be all the Mustangs could handle for the first 11 minutes of the contest. Eight points by Dakota Kaufman in the final 4:27 of the first period vaulted the Trojans into a 12-9 lead at the first break.

Kaufman scored the first four points of the second quarter for Hillsboro, including a basket at the 3:12 mark to tie the contest at 16-16.

But then the implosion hit. Nine turnovers and four missed shots later, Tiffany Rooker finally broke the dry spell of 8:46 with a traditional three-point play to end a 15-0 South?western run.

By the end of the third period, the Mustangs appeared comfortably ahead at 37-20 and Kaufman and Kassidi Luthi were both watching from the Hillsboro bench with four fouls. Kaufman missed the last 5:25 of the third quarter and Luthi the last 4:15.

Britny Butler hit a 3-pointer from the wing in the early seconds of the fourth quarter to give the Mustangs their largest lead of the night at 40-20.

To their credit, the Trojans did not quit. Allie Faul responded to Butler?s trey with one of her own seconds later, igniting a 12-2 Trojan run over the next 3:37 to close the gap to 42-32 with 4:00 to play.

Helped by two more Trojan turnovers, Southwestern regrouped to score five unanswered points over the next 2:18, all but extinguishing any hope of a miraculous come-from-behind upset.

Kaufman scored two more baskets in the final minute of the game to finish with 20 points in a little more than 23 minutes of playing time. She made eight of 12 shots from the floor.

The biggest stat of the game was Hillsboro?s 25 turnovers, with all but five coming from a mix of five perimeter players. Southwestern outscored Hillsboro off turnovers, 22-7.

The Trojans outshot South?western from the floor, 41 percent (12-29) to 37 percent (16-43), and even outrebounded the taller Mustangs, 28-25.

With the loss, the Trojans ended their season with a 14-10 mark after being 8-8 in mid-February.

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