HHS girls fourth at tough Trojan Classic

Danae Bina drives into the lane after a steal against Hesston. Bina drew a foul on the play and made two free throws to bring Hillsboro within 37-33 during the third quarter Saturday.There?s disappointment?but no shame?in walking away from this year?s Trojan Classic with a 1-2 record when the eight-team field included five teams that were undefeated and six that were state-ranked.

At halftime of their third-place game, Hillsboro actually led Hesston, the No. 1 team in Class 3A. But the Swathers, with considerable talent, size and depth, rallied to win, 57-45.

Hesston got off to a strong start, building a 17-10 lead through one quarter, aided by several unforced Trojan errors. With the Swathers leading 23-15 in the second quarter, a basket by Alex Ratzlaff ignited an 11-0 run to the end of the half.

Key to the surge was the welcomed return of Danae Bina?s hot shooting hand. The senior scored seven consecutive points, including a three-pointer and four straight free throws as Hills?boro led at the break, 26-23.

?I thought our first half was one of the best halves we?ve played this year,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?I also told them I thought our second half was not one of the best halves we?ve played.?

Hillsboro stumbled out of the gate at the start of the third quarter, missing shots and committing turnovers. Hesston took advantage to regain the lead at 32-26 at the 4:15 mark. Another three from Bina pulled the Trojans to within 39-33 as the quarter ended.

As the fourth quarter began, it appeared Hillsboro might actually turn the tide. Tara Proffitt and Ratzlaff nailed back-to-back threes in just over a minute of play to tie the game at 39.

But the Swathers went to their bread and butter?sisters Caylee and Cami Rich?ardson?for help. The pair combined for 12 consecutive points from the 6:27 mark to the 2:44 mark. By then, Hesst?on was in charge at 51-40, and cruised to the win.

?One of the things we really were emphasizing the past two days was protecting the paint,? Hiebert said. ?That?s where Hesston really thrives. They?ve got size and all their girls really finish well. I thought we did a better job in the first half than we did the second half.?

Bina led the Trojans with 18 points and Addie Lackey added 14. The two Rich?ard?son sisters each scored 19 points as Hesston improved to 11-1 after suffering their first defeat of the year in the semifinals.

Hiebert said he hopes his team will remember how well they played against Hesston in the first half?and why.

?If we play together, I think we can be pretty tough,? he said. ?We had them frustrated, we had them second-guessing themselves. We just didn?t pull a full game together.?

Riley County 47, HHS 37

Semifinal round, Thursday

A good start doesn?t always translate into a good ending. Hillsboro found that out the hard way in their disappointing loss to the undefeated Falcons.

The Trojans made five of their first eight shots while harassing the Falcons into missing their first six shots and committing four turn?overs. The result was a 10-0 Hillsboro lead at the 3:11 mark of the first quarter.

But the rest of the first half took an ugly turn. The Trojans made only two of 15 shots, and their intensity on defense cooled. Riley County took advantage of the lag to cut the lead to 10-5 after one quarter, and establish a 19-14 lead by halftime.

?We just stopped working together defensively,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?We started off pretty well for two or three minutes, and did some really nice things. Then we kind of relaxed, gave them penetration.

?They were driving to the basket way too easily. We were watching people rather than moving and boxing out. All those things we talked about, we just didn?t do.?

The third quarter followed a similar path as the first. Hillsboro started with a 5-0 run within the first minute, but went 2-for-11 the rest of the period. When it ended, Riley led 31-23.

Hillsboro recovered some of its intensity in the final quarter, cutting the lead to 41-35 when Alex Ratzlaff scored on a coast-to-coast drive with 3:41 to play.

Once again Hillsboro couldn?t sustain the rally, managing only one more basket the rest of the way. Even some shaky Falcon free-throw shooting in the final 1:40 couldn?t save them.

After a chilly first half, Addie Lackey scored 11 points for Hillsboro in the second half to finish with 15 for the game. Ratzlaff contributed 12, but the Trojans were a collective 0-for-10 from behind the arc.

Meanwhile, Madison Vargo paced the Falcons with a game-high 17 points, including 4-for-8 shooting from three-point land. Fellow guard Katelyn Thomp?son also tossed in 17 points, including 3-for-4 three-point accuracy and 6-for-9 success overall from the floor.

?When we just go through the motions we become a mediocre team,? Hiebert said. ?When we play a really good team like Riley, it just doesn?t work. We?ve got to be more focused as a unit?all five girls.?

HHS 47, Republic Co. 23

First round, Tuesday

Defensive pressure was the key to Hillsboro?s opening-round victory over eighth-seeded Republic County?but a good start on the offensive end helped, too.

The Trojans made four of their first five shots while forcing four Buffalo turn?overs to build an 8-0 led at the 4:42 mark of the first quarter. Hillsboro led 12-4 by the end of it.

By halftime the Trojans were well in front, 27-9, even though their offense dried up the last 2:48 of the period. But their defense more than made up for it. The Buffaloes managed only one basket in 12 shots through the first two quarters, while committing 15 turnovers.

The second half was mostly a formality as the Trojans wrapped up the 24-point win. Coach Nathan Hiebert, who subbed frequently and deeply already in the first half, cleared the bench for good after the Trojans rolled up a 46-18 lead midway through the final period.

For the game, the Trojans allowed only five Republic County field goals and 30 shots?15.6 percent success. The remainder of the scoring came on free throws (13-17).

?Our defense early on we really rushed them into a lot of stuff,? Hiebert said. ?We got sloppy halfway through the second quarter and then in the third quarter over half of their points came off of free throws.

?Offensively, I thought there were times when we got some good looks, and then there were times they gave us OK looks, and we were OK with taking those shots?and we didn?t make many of them.?

Addie Lackey led the Trojans with 18 points and Alex Ratzlaff added 11 as the Trojans shot 41 percent (17-42) from the floor.

Coming?The 10-3 Tro?jans will get a full week of practice with no games scheduled. When they return to action Feb. 4, they will travel to Sterling with an opportunity to avenge their eight-point loss to the Black Bears two weeks ago. Sterling is ranked No. 2 in Class 2A at 13-0.

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