In a defensive battle royale, the Hillsboro girls held off Haven, 43-32,to win the Class 3A sub-state tournament championship on their home court. The victory means Hillsboro will make its fifth straight trip to Hutchinson next week in coach Nathan Hiebert?s six-year tenure.
Before the game was over, both teams endured long stretches of minimal scoring. Haven?s came first. The Wildcats scored the first two points of the night on a pair of free throws by Hailey Davis 1:11 into the contest, but didn?t score a field goal until McKayla Stucky scored in the lane at the 2:29 mark of the second quarter — a stretch of 13:21 without a basket.
Hillsboro, meanwhile, got off to a relatively good start on offense, scoring 10 straight points to take a 10-3 lead at the end of the quarter after Haven made a third free throw.
The Trojans? best stretch from the field came in the first 2:12 of the second quarter. They scored nine unanswered points to push the margin to the biggest spread of the night, 19-3, with 5:48 to play in the second period. Addie Lackey accounted for five of those points with a three-pointer form the corner and a driving layup.
But the tide suddenly changed radically, as Hillsboro entered a dry spell of its own. The Trojans managed only two points the rest of the quarter — on a basket at the buzzer by Danae Bina — to lead 21-10 at intermission.
But the drought continued through most of the third quarter. The Trojans got a pair of free throws early, but didn?t score again until Lackey hit a 15-footer with 1:19 left in the period — giving Hillsboro a total of four points over span of almost 12:30. Bina?s free throw with 6.7 seconds left the gave Hillsboro a 26-16 lead heading into the final quarter.
Hillsboro led 32-21 after two free throws by Maci Schlehuber with 4:18 to play. The Trojans didn?t make a field goal the rest of the game — in fact, they didn?t even attempt one. Instead, Haven was going to force Hillsboro to win at the free-throw line. And the Trojans did, making eight in a row and 11 of 14 over the final 2:03 of the game. Five different Trojans made a charitable donation down the stretch.
Lackey and Bina tied for team scoring honors with 12 points a piece.
With the win, Hillsboro will travel to Hutchinson next week with a 21-2 record. By leading a Trojan team to the state tournament for five years in a row, Hiebert eclipses the school record set by Becky Carlson, who took teams to Hutch four years in a row twice over a nine-year span.