Defense plowed the path to the championship game of the Trojan Classic for the Hillsboro girls, as the Trojans smothered Hesston, 42-37, in their semifinal face off on Thursday night.
Trailing 17-14 at the half, Hesston scored four quick points to take its first and last lead of the night, 18-17. But the Swathers managed only four field goals the rest of the game as Hillsboro took control in a game that stayed relatively close. By the end of the third period, Hillsboro led only by five, 27-22. But a 12-2 run by the Trojans over the first 5:30 of the final period cemented the victory.
At the start of the game, the Trojans streaked out of the starting gate with a 10-1 run through the first four minutes, making all four of the shots they took from the field — three by Dakota Kaufman — and both free throws. But the scoring suddenly dried up for both teams the final half of the period as Hillsboro maintained a 10-1 advantage at the break.
The second quarter flipped Hesston?s way after Kaufman opened with a basket 30 seconds in. Mallory Schroeder, the Swathers? leading scorer for the season, drained a 3-pointer at the 7:07 mark to ignite a 10-5 surge that pulled Hesston to within three points at halftime.
Kaufman finished with 19 points on 9-for-14 shooting from the floor to pace the Trojans, who improved to 8-3 for the year with their eighth straight win. Hesston dropped to 9-2, with both losses coming at the hands of Hillsboro in three matchups this season.
Hillsboro made nearly 49 percent of its shots (18-37) while holding Hesston to under 24 percent shooting (9-38). Hillsboro didn?t launch a single 3-point attempt while Hesston threw up 14 and made two. The Swathers did hold an advantage at the free line, going 15-23 while Hillsboro made six in only 11 attempts.
The Trojans will face off for the title at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against Thomas More Prep, who slipped past Marion, 61-55, in overtime earlier on Thursday night.
(Free photos by Brad Wiseman)