The Trojans never trailed in the contest, but committed as many turnovers as points scored (5) through the first four minutes of the game. By the end of the first quarter, Hillsboro led, 9-5.
Alex Ratzlaff, the team?s dominant scorer a year ago, warmed up in the second quarter with eight points to fuel the Trojans to a 25-19 halftime lead.
The third quarter began with a basket by Hillsboro?s Callie Linnens, but neither team scored again until Sienna Kaufman made a free throw with 4:30 left in the quarter for a 27-19 lead.
When Ratzlaff hit a three-pointer at the 3:50 mark, the Trojans launched a 14-6 run and led 41-25 at the break.
The Trojans took over down the stretch, establishing their largest lead at 53-29 with 1:51 remaining on a basket by Kaufman.
Ratzlaff led the Trojans with 23 points; Tas Sanchez, a senior transfer from Thai?land, added eight points and an energy boost in her Trojan debut.
?The game in Thailand, is a more up-and-down pace,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?That?s more her style. If we can utilize her in that capacity, that will help us. Even at the end, she was getting tips and going down. She missed a couple of opportunities to score, but she?s a huge benefit. She moves well and has a good feel for the game.?
Nine Trojans contributed points during the contest.
?That?s one thing I was thankful for,? Hiebert said. ?Last year, Alex was really our main scorer almost every single night. When you come out the first night and have several girls scoring for us, that makes a huge difference. It allows Alex to take higher-percentage shots, and if the other girls are shooting better, they?re able to do that as well.?
As a team, the Trojans shot 42 percent from the floor (25-59) and 62 percent (8-13) at the line while holding the Panthers to 26 percent field-goal shooting (10-38). Nickerson made 12 of 22 free-throws.
?I was pleased overall,? Hiebert said. ?We shot the ball well at times, and we got a lot of girls involved.?
Coming?The Trojans will compete this week in the Moundridge Preseason Tournament. Hillsboro was scheduled to play Inman at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Mound?ridge at 7 p.m. Thursday and Lyons at 4 p.m. Friday.