The Hillsboro girls basketball team proved the quality of its depth, claiming the championship of the Mound?ridge Pre-season Tournament last week with a 3-0 record to start the season.
In the round-robin format, the Trojans were never seriously threatened in wins over Garden Plain at home and Moundridge and Lyons at Moundridge.
?For this group, it?s an excellent start,? coach Nathan Hiebert said about the 3-0 start. ?We learned a lot of stuff, and starting this way is going to pay off when we go to tournaments later in the season.?
Lyons?Claiming the first-place plaque with a surprisingly difficult 54-46 victory over Lyons Friday, Hillsboro got the better end of a ragged start for both teams.
The Trojans built a 6-0 lead through the first 5:30 of the contest before Lyons got on the board. The offensive production picked up considerably over the remaining 2:30, with HHS leading 16-7 at the first break.
Hillsboro pushed the lead to 22-11 through the first half of the second quarter before Lyons rallied to shrink the margin to 28-23 by halftime. The half ended when Lyons? Megan Schottler was fouled on a desperation shot at half court, then sank all three free throws with no time left on the clock.
The Trojans forged ahead by 12 to start the third quarter with a 7-0 run through the 4:21 mark. Lyons then battled back to 35-28 before a pair of buckets by Addie Lackey and two free throws from Allie Faul helped Hillsboro end the quarter with a 41-29 lead.
Through the first 3:30 of the final quarter, Hillsboro again pushed the margin, this time to 49-34. But Lyons made one more slow charge that narrowed the margin to 49-42 with 2:16 left. Hillsboro cashed in five of eight free throws down the home stretch to nail down the eight-point win.
The game changer for Lyons was Anna Nusser, a muscular 6-foot post player who scored 12 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth period.
?I knew we were going to struggle with teams that have good size inside,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?We?re not exceptionally big or strong. She?s one of the strongest post players we?ll see.?
Meanwhile, the HHS girls demonstrated their depth with nine players reaching in the scoring column. Freshman Lackey led with 13 points and sophomore Tena Loewen added 12.
Hiebert was pleased with the win but felt his team showed its inexperience for the first time this season.
?We?d get ahead, then get lazy on defense and give up the easy bucket,? he said. ?On a stop we?d come down and put up a quick shot from the outside. We?ve got to be more disciplined in getting what we want.?
Moundridge?Even with three seniors missing because of illness, Hillsboro got out of the gate quickly against the hometown Wildcats on the way to a 49-33 win.
After Moundridge scored the first bucket, the Trojans launched a 13-1 run to lead by 11 points a little over three minutes into the contest. Addie Lackey, Callie Serene and Steph Sanders each drained three-pointers during the surge.
Another three by Sanders boosted the score to 16-7 by the end of the first quarter.
In the second period, Maci Schlehuber came off the bench to score a two-pointer and three-pointer on consecutive possessions around the 2:15 mark to help HHS push the margin to 27-16 by halftime.
Hillsboro shot 67 percent (12-18) through the first two quarters while tenacious defense limited Moundridge to 33 percent shooting (6-18).
The Trojans cooled to 3-for-10 shooting in the third quarter, but two of those baskets were three-pointers?one each from Serene and Sanders?to help Hillsboro maintain a 14-point margin at the end of the quarter, 37-23.
Moundridge got as close as 44-33 with a minute to play in the game, but Tena Loewen scored a basket and a free throw while Danae Bina added the final basket of the night to give HHS the 16-point victory margin.
For the game, the Trojans shot just under 50 percent (19-39) while holding Moundridge to 29 percent success (12-41).
Even with seniors Allie Faul, Emma Heyen and Elise Heyen absent, Hillsboro coach Nathan Hiebert got point production from eight players, including five with six points or more.
Sanders and Lackey led the way with nine points each while Loewen added eight, Schlehuber seven and Serene six.
?I?m just really proud of how those girls came out and how they played,? Hiebert said. ?When you?ve got eight people scoring, that?s huge.?
Defensively, the Trojans held the Wildcats? top scorers, Taylor Schrag and Mackenzie Suder?man to 14 and three points, respectively, after the pair had scored 28 and 17 the previous game.
Garden Plain?The Trojan girls maintained control of their season opener from start to finish in a 47-39 victory over Garden Plain last Tuesday in Brown Gymnasium.
With three players contributing points, the Trojans jumped to a 9-0 lead before Garden Plain scored about three minutes into the contest. The Owls battled back to a 12-9 deficit by the end of the quarter before HHS pushed the lead back to nine, 24-15, by halftime.
Hillsboro accomplished its first double-digit lead of the season at 29-19 when freshman Addie Lackey scored in the lane with 3:45 left in the third period.
The Trojans took a 37-26 lead into the final period and pushed it to as many 14 at 42-28 with 7:07 left to play. The Owls slowly chipped away at the lead until reaching the eight-point margin on the final basket of the contest.
Coach Nathan Hiebert took advantage of his depth, cycling in 12 players and getting points from eight of them. Lackey finished with a team-high 14 in her Trojan debut.
?Our girls did a nice job,? Hiebert said. ?Going in, I told them I was going to play a lot of girls and I got 12 girls in. We got good things out of all of them.?
As a team, HHS shot 34 percent (16-47) from the floor and made 11 of 19 free throws. The Owls shot nearly 38 percent from the field (18-48), but made only two of 14 free-throws.
?I knew going in that Garden Plain?s strength is their inside game,? Hiebert said. ?Some?times it seems like they shoot the ball so they can go in and rebound it.
?They were taller than us, they were more physical than us. But we made them take some tough shots and then got some good looks at the other end.?
Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to play Smoky Valley at home Tuesday before traveling to Sterling Friday. The Trojans will complete their pre-holiday schedule with a game at Marion next Tuesday, Dec. 21.
Call the Free Line at 947-3363 or go to hillsborofreepress.com for same-night reports on all three games.