The Hillsboro girls took charge early and coasted to 57-30 victory over Sterling in their pre-holiday finale Friday at Brown Gymnasium.
The win was their third straight and evened their season record to 3-3.
Hillsboro came out with aggressive full-court pressure that unraveled the Black Bears quickly. The visitors committed 13 turnovers in the first period as Hillsboro capitalized with fast-break baskets on the way to a commanding 23-4 lead. Dakota Kaufman scored eight and Allie Faul six to fuel the scoring.
?Our key was that we wanted to jump on them early,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?I was proud that the girls did that. I thought our girls were getting to the spots they needed to be?they had some urgency in that. We were getting some easy buckets.?
The Trojans backed off the pressure somewhat in the second quarter but still dominated as they pushed the lead to 42-11 by intermission?easily the most offensively productive half of the season.
The two teams more or less traded points through the third quarter, but with Hillsboro holding a 57-24 lead by the end of it, the continuous clock rule kicked in for the final quarter.
Coach Nathan Hiebert cleared his bench early in the final period. Even with Sterling keeping most of its starters in, Hillsboro lost only six points on its lead.
Kaufman led the Trojans with 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the field while Faul scored a season-high 14.
The Trojans shot 56 percent (25-45) from the field while limiting Sterling to 11-for-43 (26 percent) for the game and pressuring 27 turnovers.
Hiebert was pleased to see that his team played well for a full game again after suffering some second-half disappointments earlier in the season.
?We?ve done some good things early against some tough teams, but we didn?t finish things as good as we could have,? he said. ?In the past couple of games we?ve done a better job of completely finishing them off.
?It?s a lot better to go into the break with a win because it keeps your attitude better,? he added. ?The girls are excited to come back because we?re playing well.?
The Trojans will resume competition Jan. 5 when they host Hoisington (5-1).
Nickerson?The Trojans played, and won 43-28, their best complete game to date last Tuesday against a Nickerson team that was taller, athletic and more experienced.
But the Trojans did hold one critical advantage?superior defense that harassed the Panthers into 11-for-51 (22 percent) shooting from the floor for the night.
?Our goal was to try to speed them up, and I think early on we did that,? said coach Nathan Hiebert. ?They started rushing their shots. It?s exciting to see when the girls do that, because they just get a little more energy.?
With Dakota Kaufman scoring the first five points of the game and nine in the first quarter, Hillsboro led 13-8 at the first break. By halftime, though, Nickerson had trimmed the margin to 19-17 as the Trojans struggled on the offensive end, managing two baskets in only seven shots attempted.
Kaufman again lit the flame for HHS to start the second half, scoring five straight. The run extended to 8-0 before Nickerson?s Kylie Combs broke the ice with a 3-pointer at the 2:54 mark.
Callie Serene?s 3-pointer with two seconds left in the quarter gave Hillsboro a 33-24 margin at the final break. A 7-2 surge over the first four minutes of the final quarter kept the Trojans comfortably ahead until the end.
Kaufman finished with 21 points as the Trojans improved to 2-3 for the season. Hillsboro shot a respectable 43 percent from the floor (15-35), but didn?t do much better from the free-throw line (11-25, 44 percent).