The Hillsboro basketball teams capped their pre-holiday schedule on the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum Friday (Dec. 18) night as they split their home openers against Sterling. The Trojan girls took charge early and coasted to 57-30 victory while the boys threatened late but came up short in a 47-42 defeat.
The Trojan girls came out with aggressive full-court pressure that unraveled the Black Bears quickly. The visitors committed 13 turnovers in the first period as Hillsboro capitalized with fast-break baskets on the way to a commanding 23-4 lead. Dakota Kaufman scored eight and Allie Faul six to fuel the scoring.
The Trojans backed off the pressure somewhat in the second quarter but still dominated as they pushed the lead to 42-11 by intermission.
The two teams more or less traded points through the third quarter, but with a Hillsboro holding a 57-24 lead by the end of it, the continuous clock rule kicked in for the final quarter. Coach Nathan Hiebert cleared his bench early, and Sterling, with most of its starters in, managed six points in the abbreviated period.
Kaufman finished with 20 points and Faul added 14 as the Trojans shot 56 percent (25-45) from the field and made five of seven free throws. Meanwhile, Sterling shot 11-for-43 for the game (26 percent) and turned the ball over 27 times.
The win, Hillsboro?s third straight, evened the Trojans? record at 3-3 as they enter the break.
The Hillsboro boys hung around long enough to make a late run at victory. By the end of the first quarter, Sterling built a 10-5 lead and seemed poised to break the game open. But to their credit the Trojans stayed within that 5 to 10-point range almost the entire game, trailing 23-14 at halftime and 33-25 after three quarters.
But in the final quarter, Hillsboro made a charge, ignited by a basket by Ethan Frantz at the 5:46 mark to pull HHS to within 35-29. Following a Sterling turnover, Caleb Hilliard scored in the paint and Ben Bebermeyer drove for a basket in the lane to offset a Sterling free throw and make the score 35-34 with 5:02 to go.
After Sterling countered with a basket, Mason McCarty scored in the paint off an assist by Bebermeyer, then moments later Bebermeyer drained a 3-pointer from the top at the key with 3:38 to go to give Hillsboro its first lead of the night at 39-37.
But as quickly as the fireworks started, they fizzled. The Trojans missed six straight shots as Sterling re-established itself with a 45-39 lead. A 3-pointer by Jesse Allen with 21 seconds left gave Trojan fans some hope, but two more free throws sealed the win for Sterling, who improved to 5-1 as Hillsboro slipped to 1-5.
Poor shooting continues to be the Trojans? biggest Achilles heal. On this night they shot 17-for-52 (33 percent) from the field, including a 3-for-23 performance behind the arc. Allen finished with 15 points while Bebermeyer added 14 to lead the team.
Sterling?s Austin Maxwell came off the bench to lead the Black Bears with 16 points, including six critical points down the stretch.
Hillsboro will return to action Jan. 5 when the Trojans host Hoisington.