The Hillsboro girls offered some credence to their preseason No. 1 ranking in Class 3A by sweeping all three games at the Mound?ridge Preseason Tourna?ment last week.
The Trojans faced their biggest test on opening night, but pulled out a 38-32 victory against the host school, which is ranked in Class 2A.
But Hillsboro left no doubt as to their superiority in the final two games, claiming a 55-21 rout of Inman Thursday and taking care of Lyons in a championship game showdown Friday, 51-28.
Lyons?Hillsboro and Lyons each came into Friday?s contest with a 2-0 tournament record, making for a true title match in the round-robin format.
?It?s a step for our team,? coach Nathan Hiebert said about the title. ?It?s happened enough the past several years that we don?t want to lose the freshness of it. Every win makes a huge difference in our goals throughout the whole season, especially when it comes to tournament play.?
The Trojans quickly demonstrated their superiority over the Lions, pushing to a 17-2 lead after one quarter. Hillsboro bumped the lead to 16 by halftime at 26-10 with six players contributing points during the first half.
The Trojans erased any doubt that might remain about the game?s outcome with an 11-0 run to start the second half. Lyons recovered to outscore Hillsboro 8-4 through the end of the quarter and cut the deficit to 23 points at 41-18.
But with a 7-1 run to start the fourth quarter, Hillsboro substituted deeply the rest of the way and cruised to the 23-point win.
Danae Bina led HHS with 17 points, including seven in the first three minutes of the final period and 13 for the second half.
Despite the comfortable win, Hiebert saw opportunities for improvement.
?We had some stretches where we did some really good things, and then some stretches where we weren?t necessarily giving up a lot of points but offensively we just weren?t making as wise decisions that got us (points earlier),? Hiebert said.
Hillsboro?s pressure defense was a consistent benefit.
?I thought we had some size benefits against them at a lot of their positions, which was really good,? he added. ?Thankfully, we pushed the (Lions) pretty hard, we frustrated the girls a lot and made Lyons take a lot of guarded perimeter shots.?
Hiebert said he expects his team to show more consistency as the season continues.
?Losing five seniors from last year, it?s a new team,? he said. ?We have several girls playing a lot more minutes this year than last year. The girls are still learning to play with each other.?
Inman?The Trojans came out energized on both ends of the court and simply dominated the Teutons from start to finish in Thursday?s 55-21 rout.
Hillsboro jumped to a 23-4 lead by the end of one quarter as the Trojans? full-court pressure prompted 10 turnovers in Inman?s 18 possessions.
By halftime, Hillsboro had pushed the margin to 39-11. Tena Loewen scored all of her team-high 18 points in the first half and Addie Lackey added eight.
The theme continued into the second half with Hillsboro building a 35-point margin, 52-17, by the end of the third quarter. The final quarter was played with a running clock.
Coach Nathan Hiebert credited the discipline of his defense for the 29 Wildcat turnovers that helped fuel the Trojan attack.
?(Tuesday) night we thought things were just going to happen for us,? he said. ?Tonight I was proud of our focus.?
Hiebert said Danae Bina was particularly effective against Inman?s point guard.
?We?ve been fortunate the past couple of years to have people who can frustrate that main ballhandler,? Hiebert said. ?It slows them down and they have a hard time getting into their offense. Danae did a great job on that.?
Hiebert was pleased with his team?s shooting performance.
?We had a lot of girls with some good buckets,? he said. ?All the way around we did a better job of taking good shots that were within our comfort zone.?
Lackey added four points in the second half to finish with 12 for the night, and Bina chipped in nine to complement Loewen?s first-half productivity.
?I think Tena was a bit more aggressive, but also I think our patience was a lot better,? Hie?bert said. ?The first night against Moundridge there were times when we didn?t give her an opportunity to get shots off.
?It?s not about her, but when you have your top scorer returning, you like to give them opportunities to see the ball.?
Moundridge?The Trojans used defense to prevail 38-32 over Moundridge in a battle of two state-ranked teams in the first round of tournament play.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 6 in Class 2A, had the advantage of having a game under their belt while the Trojans, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, were making their season debut.
?We had a lot of first-game jitters out there,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?Offensively, we were rushing things. Mound?ridge did a good job?they can?t really match up well with our girls, so they kind of sagged into almost a soft man zone to keep us away from the basket.?
Even so, point guard Danae Bina scored Hills?boro?s first six points of the season to help the team to a 10-6 lead after one quarter. The Trojans pushed the margin to 19-11 with 1:42 left in the half on a couple of baskets by Addie Lackey.
But two free throws from Moundridge standout MacKen?zie Suderman and a traditional three-point play by Cassidy Siemens narrowed the margin to 19-16 by halftime.
The Trojans launched a 9-0 run to start the third period with two-pointers by Erin Winter, Lackey and Christina Morris, and a three from Bina. But Moundridge whittled the 28-16 deficit to 29-22 by the end of the quarter.
Hillsboro bumped its lead back to nine early in the fourth quarter, but Moundridge rallied once more to pull as close as 31-27 with 2:30 to play.
But Tena Loewen scored off a steal and Maci Schlehuber added a couple of free throws to give HHS some breathing room again at 35-27. The Trojans? defense secured the victory down the stretch.
?Defensively we did well, but we still have a lot to learn,? Hiebert said. ?A lot of their shots came from us breaking down defensively. Either we lunged and missed, or we got out of position or lost track of our girl.
?We just need to clean some of that stuff up.?
Loewen, Lackey and Alex Ratzlaff combined to hold Suder?man to only eight points.
?It?s nice to have some players who are athletic, and defensively can shut some people down,? Hiebert said. ?Suderman?s a nice player. If she gets hot, she can really light it up. We didn?t give her too many open, uncontested looks.?
Bina finished with 13 points to pace HHS while Lackey added nine and Loewen seven.
?It?s good to play a team where we have to battle early on and see what we need to work on,? Hiebert said.