The Swather girls, ranked 10th in Class 3A, pulled away from the Trojans with a 57-22 victory Friday that ended with a running clock during the fourth quarter at Brown Gymnasium.
Hillsboro played a competitive first quarter against the athletic visitors. When Mesa Merrell hit a three-pointer at the 4:19 mark the Trojans led 6-5. But Hesston finished the quarter with a 10-2 run for a 15-8 lead. Merrell scored all eight Trojan points in the period.
“I think the girls realize that if you don’t (play well at the start), it’s going to be absolutely miserable,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “We flustered them a little bit, and changed defenses throughout the game. It kind of kept them off balance.”
Hillsboro managed three free throws through the first 6:32 of the second quarter, while Hesston cashed in 13 points over the same stretch. Merrell hit a three at the 1:24 mark, but Hesston led comfortably by halftime, 33-14.
The Swathers pushed the margin to 40-14 before Merrell hit her fourth three of the game with 5:34 left in the third quarter. By the time the quarter ended, the Swathers had qualified for a running clock in the final quarter with a 52-21 lead.
Merrell easily was the Trojans’ high scorer with a career-high 17 points. Only three other Trojans contributed points and none scored more than three. As a team, Hillsboro shot 7-25 from the field (28 percent). The Trojans’ success on the offensive end was undermined by 33 turnovers.
“We’d have a couple of possessions where we did nice things,” Hiebert said. “We had some nice backdoor cuts, Mesa shot some open threes and shot fairly well tonight. Then we had a lot of turnovers in a row, and Hesston had something to do with it. Their athleticism, speed, length—that bothers us.”
Driving the Swathers, meanwhile, were Kailey Jo Ince with 16 points, Celbi Richardson with 15 and Abby Weber and Elise Kaiser both with 10. The Swathers shot 47 percent (20-43) from the floor to raise their season record to 15-4 and a 9-1 mark in league play. The Trojans dropped to 5-14 and 0-9.
Halstead—Hillsboro simply didn’t have the fire that characterized the play of the Dragons at Halstead.
The home team started strong and never looked back on the way to a 56-29 toasting of the Trojans on Tuesday.
Generating the heat on offense were guards Mackenzie Anderson and Daphne Williams and forward Kayla Newman. The threesome scored 11 of Halstead’s 12 first quarter points, doubling Hillsboro’s output with a 12-6 lead.
In the second quarter, Halstead still led by six at 19-13 after Mesa Merrell hit a three-point basket art the 4:22 mark. But the Trojans fell into an offensive funk after that. Five turnovers and 0-for-3 shooting and enabled the home team to build a 28-13 halftime lead.
After pushing the lead to 41-20 after three quarters, Halstead outscored Hillsboro 15-9 in the fourth quarter as both teams rotated in their reserves down the stretch.
For the game, Anderson, Williams and Newman accounted for 40 of the team’s 56 points.
“Halstead was a lot more aggressive,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “Halstead executed a lot better, Halstead got the easy shots while we tried to force things.
“There were times when we could have gone wide open to the basket for layup, but we couldn’t see it, we couldn’t take it. We just went through the motions.”
The win improved Halstead’s season record to 14-4 overall and 6-2 in the CKL. The Trojans, led by Merrell with 12 points, slipped to 5-13 and 0-8.