Haven escapes Hillsboro upset

HHSgbKaufmanP2131773.jpg
HHSgbKaufmanP2131773.jpg

Dakota Kaufman works on a dribble-drive early in Friday?s 41-38 loss at Nicker?son. She scored 16 points.

The Hillsboro girls, playing some of their best basketball of the season, capped a close-but-not-quite week with a 41-38 loss at Nickerson on Friday. That came on the heels of a near upset of state-ranked Haven on Tuesday at home.

?They?re definitely disappointed,? coach Nathan Hiebert said of his team, now 8-8. ?You never want to be happy about losing close games, but we?ve also talked about how we?re a different ball club now than we were at the start of the year.

?We?re proud of them, but we also reminded them how good they they could be if they take care of a few things.?

Against Nickerson, who came into the contest with a 10-5 record overall, the biggest thing to take care of was rebounding.

?It?s one of those things we?ve battled all year,? Hiebert said. ?They just got too many second opportunities. I feel like we?re better than we were, but we?re not where we need to be.?

Nickerson jumped to a 5-0 start, but Allie Faul responded with 2-point and 3-point baskets over the span of 27 seconds to tie the game. That set the tone for the evening, as the Panthers built a couple noticeable leads only to have the Trojans battle back into contention.

Nickerson led 11-10 after one quarter and 22-19 at the half. The Panthers bumped the lead to 26-20 midway through the third quarter and seemed to have momentum. But Hillsboro pulled itself into the lead with a 7-0 run on a put-back by Kassidi Luthi followed by five straight points from Dakota Kaufman.

Nicker?son scored the last four points of the period to claim a 32-29 lead at the final break.

In the fourth quarter, Nicker?son extended its lead to 35-29, but Hillsboro battled back to a 37-37 tie with 2:37 to play after Kauf?man converted another three-point play.

A basket and two free throws by Nickerson gave the Panthers a 41-38 led with 24 seconds to go. Hillsboro twice had chances to tie the game, but 3-point attempts by Faul just missed the mark.

Kaufman led HHS with 16 points while Faul and Luthi each added nine.

Team shooting reflected the close score. Hillsboro made 15 of 39 shots from the floor while Nickerson made 15 of 40. The difference was free-throw opportunities. The Panthers were 10-for-19, while HHS was 6-for-12.

Haven?The Trojans played the Wildcats, ranked in the top 10 in Class 4A, dead even through nearly 31⁄2 quarters before dropping a 34-27 decision to the Wild?cats Tuesday at Brown Gymnasium.

The game was neck and neck from the start. Dakota Kaufman struck first blood with a basket 30 seconds in. She proved to be the Trojans? primary scoring threat, finishing with 15 of Hillsboro?s 27 points.

The Trojans, showing great patience on the offensive end, led 9-8 after one quarter and 15-12 at halftime. Kassidi Luthi scored Hillsboro?s only points during the second quarter on a traditional three-point play with 2:39 left.

In the final 1:36 of the third quarter, Haven scored five unanswered points to turn an 18-17 Hillsboro lead into a 22-18 Haven advantage at the final break.

The Trojans were still within one point at 25-24 after Kaufman scored at the 6:36 mark of the final quarter. But Haven pieced together an 8-0 run over the next 4:36 to take control. Kaufman added one last basket at the 2:00 mark, but Haven went on to nail down the seven-point victory.

?The girls played with a lot of heart,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?We?ve been pleased with how we?ve progressed as a team, especially tonight against one of the top teams in 4A.?

Hillsboro made 11 of 29 (38 percent) field-goal attempts while Haven, 14-1 overall and 6-1 in the league, made 15 of 29 (58 percent), with all but one of their baskets coming in the paint. Poor free-throw shooting (3-12) by Haven helped the Trojans (5-7) stay close.

Coming?An early report of Tuesday?s game at Ellinwood is available at www.hillsborofree?press.com.

On Friday, the Trojans will host a rematch with Marion. Hillsboro edged the Warriors, 50-45, in the third-place game at the Trojan Classic three weeks ago.

Next Tuesday, Hillsboro travels to Wichita Collegiate, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A. The Trojans lost to the Spartans 46-28 in the opening game of the season.

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