More aggressive defensive play in the second half enabled the Hillsboro girls to knock of Larned, 35-28, in a competitive battle Jan. 5 on the Indians’ home court.
The win gave the Trojans a 1-1 record in the Central Kansas League and a 5-3 mark for the season.
Larned built a 6-2 lead before the Trojans scored their first field goal of the night at the 4:28 mark of the first quarter. The period ended with Larned leading, 10-8.
A 3-point basket and a free throw gave the Indians their biggest lead of the night at 14-8 about 2:30 into the second quarter.
Hillsboro got a 3-point basket by Eva Franz and a 2-point basket by Sienna Kaufman with 54 seconds left to give Hillsboro its first lead of the game at 16-14.
Larned’s Lynzi Myrick scored a few seconds later for a 16-16 score at halftime.
The two teams battled neck and neck through the third quarter. With Hillsboro leading 23-22, Kinsey Kleiner hit a shot from behind the arc to give the Trojans a 26-22 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Hillsboro limited the Indians to six points in the final quarter while scoring nine. Teegan Werth contributed a 3-point basket at the 5:33 mark, then nailed a pair of free-throws with 13.9 seconds to secure the seven-point win.
Werth paced Hillsboro with 10 points while Abby Sechrist added eight.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well. Hillsboro made 11 of 46 shots from the field for 24 percent success, while Larned made 12 of 41 shot for 29 percent. The Trojans made nine of 20 free throws while the Indian made two of eight.
Coach Nathan Hiebert praised his team’s play on the defensive end in the second half, limiting the Indians to 10 points.
“I thought we contained the ball a lot better, I thought we rebounded a lot better,” he said. “We took the press off—it looked like our legs were a little dead, so we were giving some penetration lanes.
“In the second half, the girls did a really nice job. We definitely had a lot more energy defensively,” He added. “Offensively, I thought we got better shot selection. When you get better shot selection, you score more.”
Nickerson—The Hillsboro girls opened Central Kansas League play Jan.2, but didn’t match up well against an athletic, tall and experienced Panther squad playing in front of their home crowd.
Nickerson sent their fans home happy with a 60-40 victory, raising their season record to 4-2 while Hillsboro slipped to 4-3.
The Panthers blitzed the Trojans with an 8-2 start in the first 3:30 and were never really threatened the rest of the way. By the end of the first quarter, Nickerson led 16-6 lead and by halftime the Panthers expanded the lead to 36-19.
Nickerson’s 6-2 start in the second half doubled up the Trojans, 42-21, with 2:43 left in the third quarter. By the end of the quarter, the score was 49-26.
Hillsboro never gave up, salvaging some pride by winning the fourth quarter, 14-11, for the game’s final 20-point margin.
Sienna Kaufman was the shining light for Hillsboro. The senior scored 19 points to lead the Trojans, who were simply outmanned.
“She’s good at penetration,” coach Nathan Hiebert said of Kaufman. “She sees gaps really well and then attacks those gaps really hard.”
Meanwhile, Morgan Stout, Nickerson’s 6-foot-1 sophomore, and Sophie Mader, a 6-foot senior, scored 22 and 16 points, respectively.
“Nickerson is an athletic group,” Hiebert said. “They’ve got five girls who move really, really well.
“When we came out, we were a little shell-shocked,” he added. “We (coaches) tried to prep them, but not since Sterling have we seen athleticism and intensity like that. They’re going to give a lot of teams a run for their money.”
Coming—After playing seven of their first eight games on the road, the Trojans will play their next five games at home, starting with league games versus Hoisington Jan. 9. and Haven Jan. 12., followed by the Trojan Classic, Jan. 16-20.
For a same-night report of each game, go to hillsborofreepress.com.