It didn?t take more than a couple of minutes to see that the Hillsboro girls would dominate an overmatched Nickerson team Friday. The final score was 64-26.
The Trojans forced 11 Panthers turn?overs in the first quarter alone, leading to a 21-2 lead by the first break. By halftime, Hillsboro led 40-12, with Addie Lackey scoring 18 points and Danae Bina 11 through two quarters.
The only tense moment of the game occurred midway through the third quarter when Lackey went down after rolling her ankle. The senior left the game with 23 points and did not return, but is expected to be back on the court Tuesday.
Hillsboro took a 58-20 lead into the fourth quarter and, with a running clock and playing reserves, the Trojans defended their 38-point lead to the finish.
Lackey?s 23 points led all scorers. Bina added 19 points as the Trojans evened their league record at 1-1 and their season record to 9-1. Nicker?son dropped to 0-2 and 0-8.
?I wanted to see how we?d bounce back,? coach Nathan Hiebert said, referring to his team?s loss to Sterling Tuesday. ?We had a slow start again, but I?m glad the girls got out of a little funk and got back into it. Our defensive pressure was really the key.?
Sterling?The Black Bears won the showdown of undefeated teams last Tues?day night, knocking the Trojans from the unbeaten ranks in front of a home crowd by a count of 58-50.
By missing their first seven shots of the game, the Trojans, who came in ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, made it tough on themselves against the Black Bears, ranked No. 3. Sterling led 7-0 before Danae Bina finally broke the ice with a three-pointer at the 3:55 mark.
Hillsboro didn?t warm up much after that, making only six of 24 shots (25 percent) in the first half. They found themselves trailing 26-15 at halftime after pulling to within 9-7 after one quarter.
?We didn?t do many bad things, but it didn?t look like in the first half we had much fight,? coach Nathan Hiebert said.
Sterling?s largest lead was 41-25 late in the third quarter, but a pair of baskets by Addie Lackey closed the gap to 41-29 as the quarter ended.
The odds of Hillsboro overcoming a double-digit lead in one quarter seemed slim, especially after Ster?ling started the fourth period with a 5-2 surge.
But Hillsboro began to rally. Two baskets in the paint by Bina and four straight free throws by Lackey cut the lead to 48-39 with 3:25 to play.
Then Sterling responded with an 8-0 run, snuffing any hope of a miracle finish. An 11-2 Hills?boro surge down the stretch was too little, too late.
Sterling?s pint-sized point guard Kylah Comley, penetrating the paint and nailing three of four three-point shots, torched the Trojan defense for 27 points.
?We gave Comley too much penetration, and we knew that was one of her keys,? Hiebert said. ?She?s extremely tough on penetration.?
Lackey recovered from a rough first half of shooting to score 19 points in the second half and finish with 23 for the game. Alex Ratzlaff added 17 and Danae Bina 10.
Hiebert pointed to Sterling?s 36-22 edge in rebounding as symptomatic of his team?s inconsistency. At one point they gave up five rebounds in a row on a single possession.
?We didn?t have people who were buckling down on every possession,? he said. ?We?d have two or three, and then we?d have two or three taking a break. Against Sterl?ing you can?t take breaks because they have girls who can be aggressive, who can be scorers.
?They know what they can do to help the team. We just kind of went through the motions, it seemed like, in portions of the game.?
The only silver lining to the loss was that this was a non-league matchup. The two teams will meet as league opponents in early February?and possibly a third time at sub-state.
Coming?Hillsboro will compete in an extremely tough Trojan Classic field this week.
With seedings announced prior to the Sterling loss, the Trojans will be the No. 1 seed. Four additional teams were seeded with undefeated records and six were ranked in the state in their respective classifications.
Hillsboro opened Tuesday against No. 8 Republic County (2-6). A victory would move the Trojans into the semifinals against the winner of Riley County (7-0) and Holcomb (7-0) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. A loss would have them playing the loser of that contest at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Finals will be played Saturday.
To stay informed, call the Free Line (947-3363) or go to hillsborofreepress.com for same-night coverage