With a 1-2 record for the tournament, Hillsboro?s season record stands at 8-4.
?I told the girls I love playing in this tournament,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?It?s not something where we go play some weaker teams just to get some wins. Even though we lost, we got better at a lot of things and I feel like that?s going to benefit as we go down the stretch.?
The Trojans looked weary against a quality Riley County team. Hillsboro enjoyed its only lead of the afternoon when Marah Franz drilled a three-pointer 28 seconds into the contest for a 3-2 advantage.
The Trojans didn?t score again until Tassanee Sanchez made a layup in the paint with 1:05 left in the quarter. Because the Falcons were having shooting troubles of their own, they led only 11-7, which held up until the quarter ended.
Sanchez scored a layup at the 6:01 mark of the second period, but the Trojans didn?t manage another field goal until Sanchez scored a second layup with 6:13 left in the third period?a drought of nearly 8 minutes.
At that point the Trojans, who hit a couple of free throws during that dry spell, trailed the Falcons, 26-14. By the end of the quarter the deficit grew to 30-14.
Sanchez was the Ener?gizer Bunny for Hillsboro, slicing and dicing through Falcon defenders for 14 fourth-quarter points and a team-high 20 points for the game.
The Trojans shot a chilly 23 percent (13-57) for the game. Riley cashed in 19 of 50 shots, many of them rebounds and backdoor baskets, for 38 percent accuracy.
?We had opportunities,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?We missed several layups, a lot of wide-open shots that the girls needed to take advantage of. I wasn?t upset with our shot selection, but it was good looks that we need to hit. That?s what it comes down to.?
Hesston 56, HHS 37
Hillsboro battled Hesston to a standoff in the first half, but saw their chance to make the finals disappear in an eight-turn?over third quarter that transformed a two-point halftime deficit into a 17-point hole as the quarter ended.
Both teams got off to a ragged start. Hillsboro committed eight turnovers in the first quarter; Hesston committed seven, but managed to establish a 10-7 lead at the first break.
The Swathers pushed the lead to 16-7 as the second quarter began, but Hillsboro bounced back with an 8-0 run to pull within 16-15 with 2:35 left in the half. Alex Ratzlaff?s traditional three-point play cut Hesston?s lead to 20-18 at intermission.
Tassanee Sanchez started the fateful third quarter with a free throw to pull Hillsboro within one point, but four turnovers on the Trojans? next four possession enabled Hesston to build a 25-19 lead.
Despite five points from Marah Franz midway through, the lead stood at 36-24 after Cami Richard?son hit two free throws for Hesston with 3:25 left in the quarter.
Any hope of another Trojan comeback quickly faded when Hesston hammered Hillsboro for five unanswered baskets off turnovers?including four steal-and-score baskets by Kaily Jo Ince. Suddenly, the Swather lead was 44-26 with 2:34 left in quarter and 44-27 when it ended.
?That?s been our downfall in every game we?ve struggled in,? coach Nathan Hie?bert said of the turn?overs. ?(Hesston) did a nice job of picking up the pressure and getting in the passing lanes.?
Hillsboro didn?t have a lot of gumption left in the fourth quarter, enabling Hesston to finish with a 19-point margin at the end.
Ratzlaff scored 16 points for Hillsboro, which fell to 8-3 for the season. Richardson led the Swathers with 23 points while Ince added 15 points and eight steals.
HHS 41, Holcomb 34
First round, Tuesday
The Trojans found themselves on the ropes against the Long?horns, trailing 17-9 after one quarter with 7-for-12 shooting from the floor.
But the Trojans became far less hospitable on the defensive end, limiting the Longhorns to 1-for-10 shooting and forcing five turn?overs in the second quarter. A pair of three-point baskets from Savannah Unruh helped Hillsboro close the margin to 22-17 by halftime.
In the third quarter, Hills?boro continued its defensive pressure, and with Alex Ratzlaff heating up after a slow start, the Trojans tied Holcomb at 22 at the 5:04 mark on a pair of Ratzlaff free throws. The senior scored the next seven points as Hillsboro built a 29-24 lead with 2:20 left.
Unruh hit her third three-pointer with 1:10 left to give the Trojans a 32-24 lead as the third quarter ended.
Holcomb rallied to pull to within 35-33 with 3:03 left in the game, but Sienna Kauf?man, Tassanee Sanchez and Ratzlaff combined for 6-for-6 free-throw line while the team limited the Long?horns to one point the rest of the way.
Ratzlaff finished with 12 points to lead Hillsboro. As a team the Trojans shot just over 24 percent from the field (9-37), while Holcomb managed 27 percent (12-44).
?I was really pleased with how we defended tonight,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?We gave up a couple every now then, but for the most part I felt like that?s where we won the game.?
Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to take on Marion Tuesday night at Brown Gymnasium. The Trojans will play their seventh consecutive home game Feb. 2 when Nickerson comes to town.