HHS flips Cards 40-31

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Clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch preserved a tentative lead built on defense as the Hillsboro girls opened their post-holiday and league season with a 40-31 road win over an aggressive Hoisington squad Friday.

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<p>Amanda Faber drew an extra defender, but the trap did not stop her from adding to her total of 13 points.

Hillsboro made 10 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter, including seven of eight by Amanda Faber in the final 1:40, enabling the Trojans to hold the Cardinals at bay and even their season record to 3-3 while dropping Hoisington to 5-2.

Hillsboro came into the final quarter with a 26-20 lead in a game where the Trojans defense forced 20 turnovers through the first three quarters.

?This past week we really focused on defense?jumping to the ball and better positioning,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?I think it really paid off tonight because I think we really frustrated what they were doing and that definitely helped out.?

On the offensive end, Dakota Kaufman scored Hillsboro?s first eight points of the game, including two free throws that pulled the Trojans into an 8-8 tie with 54 seconds left in the first period. Faber?s 12-foot jumper with 23 seconds left gave Hillsboro the lead for good, 10-8.

In the second quarter, senior Amy Neufeld picked up the scoring role for the Trojans, breaking loose for seven unanswered points midway through the period, including a 3-pointer at the 4:40 mark. The surge gave Hillsboro a 19-10 lead with 2:28 left in the half. The Trojans led 19-13 at intermission on the strength of 10 Hoisington turnovers during the quarter.

With the Cardinals making only one basket in five attempts to start the third quarter, Hillsboro extended its lead to 26-16 when Kaufman scored with 1:45 left. Back-to-back baskets by Hoisington in the final 1:16 cut the margin to six points at the final break.

Hillsboro, showing patience on offense, made 12 of 26 shots (46 percent) from the floor to go with 15 of 23 free throws.

?In the half court we?re a lot tougher than we are in transition,? Hiebert said. ?We needed to take care of that ball in some games where we had tons of turnovers. We had to protect the ball and execute our offense a lot more. Tonight we were able to do that.?

Meanwhile, Hoisington made only 13 of 36 shots (36 percent) from the floor and five of 11 free throws.

Kaufman finished near her season scoring average with 15 points to lead Hillsboro.

?It was kind of a quiet 15,? Hiebert said. ?I was proud of the whole team because we ran our offense well and Dakota happened to be open and got a lot of those buckets. They were executing what we needed to do.?

Faber?s 13 points proved to be pivotal for Hillsboro.

?She?s been a real constant for us all year long,? Hiebert said. ?She?s been very unselfish. This was a game where she stepped up and did some nice things. We see it every day in practice, and finally it was one of those things where she was able to do some of those things in a game. She knocked down some shots and at the end went strong with the ball and made some free throws. That was key.?

Coming?With Monday?s makeup game at Nickerson, Hillsboro (3-4) will return to action Friday at Ellinwood (1-3). On Tuesday, the Trojans square off at 8:15 p.m. in the opening round of the Trojan Classic.

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