Defense paves the way vs. Moundridge




In a game reminiscent of their match?up with Moundridge back in Decem?ber for a preseason tournament title, the Hill?s?boro girls reconfirmed the adage about the connection between good defense and winning championships.

The Trojans won the Sedg?wick sub-state title Saturday with a hard-fought 29-19 victory against the Wildcats. It marks the fourth consecutive state berth for Hills?boro?s senior-dominated squad and fifth-year coach Nathan Hiebert.

?It?s huge,? Hiebert said about the benefit of his seniors? resume. ?People come in (to sub-state), confidence-wise, and understand what kind of focus and intensity level it takes. We have five seniors on the team, but we have a lot of girls with experience on the court.?

The last time Hillsboro and Mound?ridge met, the Trojans limited the Wild?cats to a single point in the entire first half. This time Hillsboro kept them off the scoreboard until the 5:22 mark of the second period.

By then, Hillsboro slowly had built an 8-0 lead. Krista Reimer then scored six of the next eight Hillsboro points as the Trojans took a 16-6 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Moundridge made a couple of free throws about three minutes into the third period to narrow the gap to eight points. But sophomore Danae Bina came off the Trojan bench and scored six unanswered points over the span of just over a minute to put HHS on top 22-8. Moundridge rallied to narrow the lead to 22-13 by the end of the quarter.

The Wildcats grew increasingly desperate in their shot selection during the fourth quarter, missing six straight before Brooke Holloway scored at the 4:16 mark. By then Hillsboro was leading 26-13.

The Trojans were not seriously threatened down the stretch, but could have easily put the game well out of reach in the final minute if they had hit their free throws. They missed all four of their attempts, with two of the misses coming on the front end of a one-and-one.

After a sub-par game in the semifinals, Reimer led the Trojans with 10 points while Bina finished with eight.

?There were a couple of times we got into our motion (offense), and Krista made a back cut on the post player and got some easy layups,? Hiebert said. ?We attacked more inside tonight rather than going for outside shots.?

As a team, Hillsboro made 13 of 29 shots from the floor (45 percent) while limiting Moundridge to 22 percent shooting (8-37).

?We got good scouting reports from people, and knew what they were going to do,? Hiebert said.

Key to the Trojans? strategy was muzzling the Wildcats? top scorer and outside threat, MacKenzie Suderman. The 5-foot-9 senior guard managed only one 3-point basket for the game, thanks to the defense of Callie Serene primarily, with help from Addie Lackey.

?That?s probably the thing I?m most pleased about her improvement this year, is her defense,? Hiebert said about Serene. ?She?s grown a little bit, she?s got good quickness.

?That height and that length really bothered Suderman. I don?t think she got many good looks all night long.?

Getting back to state after losing all-league starter Tena Loewen to a knee injury 14 games into the season was no small tribute to her teammates.

?I think people put a lot of pressure on Tena, but we?ve got a lot of other girls,? Hiebert said. ?Our goals weren?t set this high just because of one girl.

?It took some time after Tena got hurt to figure out our continuity on the floor. We finally figured that out, and I think we?ve been playing a lot better lately.?

Moundridge, the defending Class 2A champions, finished the season 18-5 as Hillsboro improved to 21-2.

HHS 45, SE of Saline 33

Sub-state semifinals

It wasn?t a work of art, but Hillsboro battled its way into the sub-state championship game by outlasting a scrappy Southeast of Saline team Friday night.

Coming off a tremendous shooting performance on Tues?day, Hillsboro struggled to find rhythm on offense, but limited the damage with solid defense.

?We had some jitters tonight,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?It seemed like this was the finals.?

Both teams had trouble scoring at the start. Callie Serene finally broke the ice with a 3-pointer at the 4:34 mark. Maci Schlehuber came off the bench to hit a 2-pointer and two 3-pointers over a three-minute span to help HHS post a 13-10 lead at the first break.

Hillsboro started the second quarter with a flurry of seven missed shots before Courtney Weber finally found the bottom of the basket at the 4:30 mark. A score by Addie Lackey 36 seconds later gave HHS an 18-10 lead as the defense forced four turnovers and three missed shots by Southeast.

But the purple-clad Trojans finished the quarter with a 7-2 run to close the gap to 20-17 by halftime.

Keying on its defense, Hills?boro slowly built a 12-2 surge through the first 7:05 of the third quarter. By the end of the period, the Trojans led 35-23.

After Weber started the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws, SES countered with seven unanswered points before Serene hit a 12-footer at the 2:48 mark to make the score 39-30.

SES got as close as 39-33 with 2:00 to go, but Hillsboro finished the game with a basket by Krista Reimer and four free throws in six attempts?both misses came on the front end of a one-and-one?for its largest lead of the night.

Serene finished with 13 points to pace HHS, and was the only Trojan to score in double figures. As team, Hillsboro made 15 of 40 shots (38 percent) from the field while SES made 13 of 36 (36 percent).

?They?re very physical, they?ve got two good posts inside that are very aggressive to the basket and the guards are very aggressive on the perimeter,? Hiebert said about Southeast. ?They do some really nice things that caused us some problems. They got us sped up a little bit faster than we needed to go.

?We talked a lot about being patient for what we wanted to get,? he said about his team?s offense. ?We shot so well the other night, so we were taking a lot of outside shots early. We hit some, but it started messing with our (decision-making). It kind of snowballed from that.?

HHS 74, Marion 37

Sub-state quarterfinals

Putting on its best shooting show of the season, Hillsboro routed Marion in the first round of sub-state last Tuesday in Brown Gymnasium.

Not even an hour-long break for severe weather during halftime could derail the Trojan express on this night.

Making 10 of 13 shots in the opening quarter, Hillsboro jumped to a 23-8 lead. By halftime, the Trojans had pushed the margin to 40-21 despite a 10-3 Marion run over a two-minute stretch in the last half of the second quarter.

Fans were informed at halftime that Hillsboro was in a tornado warning. School officials directed them from the gym to more-secure areas, such as locker rooms and windowless hallways. Fortun?ately, the city received only rain and wind.

Despite the long break, the Trojans picked up where they left off, breaking the game wide open with a 22-4 third quarter. By state rules, the continuous clock kicked in for the final quarter as coach Nathan Hiebert cleared his bench.

Senior Callie Serene was the hottest shooter on a hot-shooting team. She led the Trojans with 18 points, including 5-for-5 shooting from behind the arc. Stephanie Sanders and Danae Bina each added 12 points and Addie Lackey chipped in 10 points and a team-high five assists.

As a team, the Trojans shot 28-for-43 from the field (65 percent), including 9-for-13 from 3-point land.

?We shot pretty well tonight,? Hiebert said. ?It was pretty exciting.?

Marion made 17 of 40 shots (42 percent) from the field but committed 19 turnovers to Hillsboro?s 10.

Marion?s Whitney Gordon finished her high school career with a 14-point performance. Katey Ehrlich added 11 points and Kaelyn Thierolf 10 as the Warriors completed their season with a 3-18 record.

Hiebert applauded his team?s mental preparedness considering the matchup was between No. 1 and No. 8.

?For a lot of these seniors, it was the last home game, it?s Marion, it?s sub-state,? he said. ?I was proud how focused the girls were.

?The past two games, King?man and Haven, I thought we really started improving our focus and how we executed things. Tonight was just a continuation of that.

?This is the time of year when we need to play our best ball, and it?s fun to see how well we?re shooting and how well we?re playing together.?

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