Both games were hard fought, worthy of an intra-county rivalry. But in the end Hillsboro defended its home-court pride with a pair of victories over Marion Friday night (Feb. 20) in Brown Gymnasium.
The Hillsboro girls overcame a first quarter deficit to win 45-37 while the boys came from behind in the second half to escape with a 59-49 win that was much closer than the final score might suggest.
In the girls’ game, Marion got off to an early 4-0 lead and Hillsboro didn’t manage a point until Dakota Kaufman sank a free throw at the 4:07 mark. Meanwhile, six points from Julia Zeiner fueled the Warriors to a 10-7 lead at the first break.
With Kaufman scoring four straight buckets for Hillsboro through the first 4:30 of the second quarter, the Trojans took their first lead at 15-14 and completed an 18-4 run from the 4:40 mark to the end of the half to carry a 27-18 advantage into the locker room at halftime. Kaufman accounted for 17 of Hillsboro’s points during the half.
Kaufman scored two more buckets to start the third quarter before Zeiner countered with a bucket at the 3:33 mark to make the score 31-20. Kaufman’s bucket with 4 seconds left in the period gave Hillsboro a 34-23 advantage at the final break.
With HHS pushing the lead to 38-23 on two more Kaufman buckets in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, the Warriors made a final charge, fueled by three 3-pointers by Lindsay Hett over a one-minute span midway through the quarter. When she drained her third one with 3:09 left, Marion was within 43-35. Two free throws by Whitney Gordon with 2:01 to go clipped the lead 43-37, but the Trojans worked the clock and made two of three free-throws in the final 40 seconds to nail down the win.
The win boosted Hillsboro’s record to 10-8 overall and 5-5 in league play while Marion dropped to 11-8 and 7-3.
In the boys’ game, Marion took on the role of the determined underdog and gave Hillsboro all it could handle before the Trojans secured the win with perfect free-throw shooting at crunch time.
The Warriors took a 16-10 lead in the opening quarter when Wil Case hit a 3-pointer at at the 1:39 mark, and the score held up until the buzzer.
When Luke Gordon hit a three with 2:55 left in the half, the Warriors enjoyed their biggest lead at 27-15. But Clay Shewey started and ended a 10-2 run with 3-point baskets to close the margin to 29-25 margin at intermission.
Marion hung on to a slim lead in the third quarter until Ben Bebermeyer scored in the paint and completed the traditional three-point play with a free throw to tie the game at 39 with 2:46 left in the quarter. Marion took one last lead when Eric Vogel scored on Marion’s next possession. But two free throws by Daniel Jost and a 3-pointer by Shewey gave the Trojans a 44-41 advantage as the quarter ended.
When Eric Vogel scored on a put-back with 3:34 to go, Hillsboro led by a slim 49-47 margin. But the Trojans found their focus and ultimately their salvation at the free-throw line, making 10 straight charity tosses over the final 1:47 — eight straight in the final 58 seconds — while holding Marion to a single basket.
Shewey led a three-pronged Trojan attack with 16 points while Jost and Loewen each tossed in 15. Gordon finished with 13, Vogel 12 and Elliott Hett 10 for Marion.
The win, Hillsboro’s sixth straight, improved the Trojans’ record to 12-6 overall and 8-2 in league play while Marion dropped to 5-14 and 2-8.