The Hillsboro girls ended their season with a 46-25 loss at Moundridge in the first round of the Class 2A sub-state tournament Feb. 28.
Trojans didn’t win the game, but they resisted the temptation to mail in a passive performance as the No. 8 seed taking on the No. 1 seed.
Instead, the Trojans went after the Wildcats with intensity, particularly on the defensive end. The game was tied 2-2 until the 3:31 mark when Wildcat post player Bethany Stucky scored and was fouled for a three-point play.
Hillsboro senior Rebecca Kaufman responded with two free throws seconds later, but the home team finished the quarter with a 10-0 run for a 15-4 lead.
The Trojans started the second quarter with a 6-0 run. Their defense contributed to Wildcat turnovers on their first six possessions, and held the home team to 0-for-5 shooting.
When Mesa Merrell scored at the 3:21 mark, the Trojans pulled to within 15-12. But Stucky scored six consecutive points and Alexis Lorimor nailed a three to give Moundridge a 24-13 lead at halftime.
The Wildcats took control of the contest during the third quarter when they increased their lead to 41-21 on 7-for-11 shooting during the period. Stucky supplied three two-point baskets and Lorimor added three three-point baskets to fuel the surge.
Hillsboro’s squad managed only four points in the final quarter and Moundridge managed only five as both teams finished the game with reserves in the final minutes.
The Trojans made 11 of 31 (30 percent) shots from the field, but missed all five three-point attempts. The Wildcats, meanwhile, shot 41 percent (19-41) from the floor with five three-point baskets.
Stucky led all scorers with 24 points. The Trojans were led by the Kaufman cousins, Rebecca and Sienna, with six points each.
Hillsboro completes the season with a 5-16 record while Moundridge improved 16-4 and moved on to the sub-state semifinals.
Coach Nathan Hiebert said he was proud of the way his team finished.
“A lot of times in a 1-8 game, it’s like let’s just get it over with and be done with the season,” he said. “There wasn’t a girl that played tonight that I thought had that attitude. I told them it showed a lot of character.”
Completing their high school careers were seniors Savannah Unruh, Mesa Merrell, Paige Proffitt, Rebecca Kaufman and Callie Linnens, who missed most of the season due to injury.
“We talked about things in the game of basketball that can last a lifetime,” Hiebert said about the night. “Character qualities like commitment, and doing your best every single time. I felt like we gave it our best.”
Although five wins in a season are the fewest for a Hillsboro girls’ team in 34 years, Hiebert said he values this season like all others.
“Sometimes kids see their value in terms of wins and losses,” he said. “I don’t value these girls any less, and I don’t value the other girls that were on state tournament teams more.
“Coach (Dennis) Boldt and I loved coaching these girls,” he added. “We’re in it for the relationships, character and the opportunity to teach the girls a lot of different things.”