Hillsboro’s pivotal surge started modestly when Tiffany Rooker made one of two free throws 17 seconds later. But back-to-back baskets by Kassidi Luthi in the paint, plus a 5-foot jumper by Samantha Heinrichs, gave the Trojans a 7-0 run that carried them to a 19-13 lead at intermission.
Dakota Kaufman began the second half with a field goal that ignited a 12-3 edge though the third quarter. Luthi capped the scoring with a 15-footer in the final seconds to give HHS a relatively comfortable 31-16 cushion at the break.
During the surge, the Trojans made eight of 16 field-goal attempts while limiting the visitors to 1-for-13 shooting.
Halstead made one last move in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, scoring on a couple of 15-foot bank shots and a basket in the paint to piece together a 6-2 run.
But when Kaufman scored off a nice pass from Amanda Faber and completed a traditional 3-point play at the 4:56 mark, the Trojan lead was back to 36-22, squelching any hope of a Christmas miracle Halstead (2-3) might have envisioned.
Trojan coach Nathan Hiebert was pleased that his young team, now 2-3, would have an upbeat start to the holiday break after playing some tough teams to start the season.
“It’s good to have some positive things to think about for the next seven days,” he said.
Hiebert credited his team’s defensive pressure for Halstead’s 12-for-48 (25 percent) shooting for the night, and noted the improved play of his guards in ball-handling and scoring.
One of those guards, Samantha Heinrichs, led the Trojan attack with a career-high 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting, while Rooker added a career-high 5.
But the Trojans’ bread and butter is in the post, where Kaufman finished with 10 points and Luthi 8.
Collegiate—The Trojans were schooled Tuesday by Wichita Collegiate on the devastating impact of quickness and full-court pressure, losing a 59-34 non-league contest that was pretty much decided by halftime.
The Trojans actually gained a point on the Spartans in the second half, but it was far too little to overcome the visitor’s 40-14 halftime lead.
The Spartans pressured the Trojans into 20 turnovers by halftime, which limited HHS to only 12 shots from the floor.
Collegiate, meanwhile, found plenty of opportunities on the offensive end, tossing up 34 shots and making half of them.
Key to Collegiate’s attack was their standout freshman, 5-foot-11 Ashia Woods, whose inside and outside game resulted in 21 points by intermission, including three 3-point baskets.
Though the game’s outcome was clear by the break, the Trojans didn’t quit. Showing much more composure against Collegiate’s pressure, and more focus on offense, Hillsboro played the Spartans to a virtual standoff on the scoreboard during the second half.
“At halftime we really talked about taking care of what we needed to do—executing our screens and actually running our offense,” coach Nathan Hiebert said.
“They started still pressuring us a little bit, but we were using our whole team to break the press, and were actually making the proper cuts rather than scrambling to throw the ball.”
The loss of Woods to an injury within the first 2:30 of the third quarter didn’t hurt the Trojan cause either. Teammate Kim Alexander, a senior, took on the mantle on offense, putting up 11 shots after intermission. She finished with nine points for the half and 18 for the game.
Hillsboro, meanwhile, got four baskets and 10 points from sophomore Dakota Kaufman in the second half after she had been limited to three free throws through the first two quarters.
Amy Neufeld added 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
As a team, Hillsboro shot 43 percent (12-28) from the floor. Meanwhile, the Spartans got off more than twice as many shots and made 44 percent (25-57).
Hillsboro limited its turnovers to 10 in the second half, but finished with a season-high 30 for the game. Not surprisingly, Collegiate held a 26-5 advantage in points off of turnovers.
The Trojans outrebounded the Spartans, 30-23.
“Collegiate definitely has some quickness and speed, and you’ve got to give them credit for the kind of game they’re playing,” Hiebert said. “We’re still trying to gain some experience in that, but it’s hard to mimic that speed and quickness (in practice.”
Coming—The Trojans (2-3) will begin the 2008 portion of their season, including their first league games, Friday, Jan. 4, at Hoisington (4-1). They then play a non-league makeup game at Nickerson (3-2) on Monday, Jan. 7.