Late rally lifts Trojans to third-place finish

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The Hillsboro girls capped a standout season with a gutty fourth-quarter rally that carried them to 42-38 victory over No. 1 seeded Atchison County in the consolation game at the Class 3A state tournament in Hutchinson.

With the win, Hillsboro earned its second consecutive third-place finish at state and secured a 23-3 season record.

?Only two teams in 3A get to leave here with a win,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?We can go back to our school and have some hardware to show people and be remembered for. That?s neat for the girls.?

But it wasn?t easy for them. With Hillsboro trailing 32-26 midway through the final quarter, senior Callie Serene drained a huge 3-point basket with 4:21 to play, then followed it 11 seconds later with a 2-pointer following an Atchison turn?over to pull HHS to within a point.

After Atchison made a rare miss at the free-throw line?they had made 13 of 14 attempts previously?Hillsboro rebounded and got the tying point on a free throw by Stephanie Sanders with 3:46 to go.

After Atchison grabbed the lead once more at 37-36 with 2:33 to play, Serene hit another big 3-point shot with 1:57 left. Stephanie Sanders had a chance to tie the game with 58 seconds left, but missed the front end of one-and-one.

However, Courtney Weber rebounded the miss, and with 48.5 seconds left Sanders was fouled again. The senior made one of two free throws.

Coming off the miss, Tara Ellerman, Atchison?s 6-foot-1 senior, dribbled the length of the court, then bowled over 5-7 Danae Bina on a drive to the basket. With the charging call, Serene took the inbounds pass and was fouled. She made both double-bonus free throws to expand the Trojan lead to 40-36 with 30.2 seconds to go.

Ellerman had a chance to cut the lead in half, but missed the front end of a one-and-one at the other end. The Tigers? 6-0 Allison Wallisch grabbed the rebound, but her shot in the paint was blocked out of bounds with 18.2 seconds left.

Ellerman scored off the inbounds pass to give Atchison hope with 18 seconds left. Serene appeared to have a layup at the other end, but her shot was blocked out of bounds with 14.4 to go. She was then fouled on the inbounds pass and made the second of two free throws to give HHS a 3-point cushion with 12.5 seconds left.

After Ellerman was called for traveling, Sanders quickly was fouled and added one last point at the free-throw line with 1.3 seconds to go for the four-point win.

?We talked about leaving it all on the court,? coach Nathan Hiebert said of his team?s effort. ?When you win, you?re not going to remember how tired and sore you are. They bought into that and played incredibly hard.

?I was proud how they fought back. We had stretches in the second half where we weren?t sharp, but we kept our focus.?

Hillsboro looked strong out of the gate with Lackey hitting a 2-pointer and 3-pointer and Krista Reimer adding a pair of 2-point basket for an early 9-2 lead. But by the end of the period, Atchison was within 11-8.

Hillsboro stepped into a funk as the second quarter began, missing all seven of its shots and committing four turnovers. Atchison responded with an 11-0 run that ended when Serene scored and added a bonus free throw with 2:13 left in the half to pull the Trojans back to within 19-14. The margin remained five points, 21-16, as the half ended.

In the third period, the Tigers expanded their lead to 28-20 with less than a minute left. But Reimer scored on a putback with 25 seconds left and Weber hit a 10-footer in the final second after the Tigers were whistled for an illegal screen.

Serene finished the game and her Trojan hoops career with a 16-point performance to lead all scorers. Lackey added 11 points as well as six rebounds, five assists and four steals?all team highs. The Trojans shot just over 30 percent from the floor and made seven of 12 free throws.

Wallisch led the Tigers with 12 points and Ellerman added 10 as Atchison County shot just under 39 percent (12-31) as a team, but made 13 of 16 attempts at the line.

The taller Tigers enjoyed a 35-26 edge in rebounding, but the Trojans committed only 11 turnovers while forcing 23 by Atchison County.

Hiebert said this victory was a fitting capstone for the season.

?(This team) overcame a lot adversity?this game kind of speaks to the season. It was about not quitting, sticking with it and believing in people.

?Several different people stepped up at different times,? he added. ?It?s not been one or two girls always being the main people. That?s a nice thing about being a team sport?you have to rely on a lot of people.?

Hiebert praised the leadership of his senior core: Amy Bartel, Reimer, Serene, Sanders and Weber.

?It?s a great group of girls who are unselfish, include everybody and work hard,? he said. ?Some people say that how your seniors go, so goes your team. Our seniors did a fantastic job of leading us.?

Burlington 52, HHS 38

State semifinals

Like a row boat battling a changing tide, the Hillsboro girls saw their dream of a state championship slowly but surely drift beyond their grasp Friday as Burlington prevailed in the Class 3A state semifinals.

The No. 3-seeded Trojans started strong against No. 2 Burlington when Callie Serene hit a pair of 3-point baskets and Krista Reimer added a score in the paint for an 8-2 lead midway through the opening period. But four turnovers and four missed shots by Hillsboro helped Burlington grab a 10-9 edge at the first break.

To their credit, the Trojans climbed back into the lead as Addie Lackey hit three straight shots in the first 1:30 of the second quarter for a 15-12 advantage. Serene added her third 3-pointer of the half at the 2:20 mark to keep the Trojans in front at halftime, 18-16.

The tide began to turn in the third quarter. Hillsboro got a free throw by Lackey, but Burlington turned a traditional 3-point play by Breanna Bluma, a quick turnover by Hillsboro and a 3-point basket by Bluma into a 22-19 lead over a span of 22 seconds.

The Trojans remained below sea level the rest of the way, but kept within striking distance through the rest of the quarter. Courtney Weber?s 3-pointer at the buzzer pulled HHS to within 35-31.

When Maci Schlehuber drained a 3-pointer at the 6:34 mark of the fourth quarter, the Trojans were within two at 37-35. But Burlington took control with a critical 6-0 surge on a pair of free throws by Sarah Pearson and consecutive baskets by Jackie O?Connor on either side of another Trojan turnover.

Leading 45-35 with 3:50 to go, Burlington began running time off the clock, forcing Hillsboro to foul to get the Wildcats to the charity stripe. But once Hills?boro achieved that at the 1:35 mark, the Wildcats kept the Trojans at bay by making five of seven charity tosses while the Trojans made only one of five field-goal attempts in response.

Serene and Lackey finished as the team?s top scorers with 11 points a piece. As a team the Trojans shot 37 percent from the floor and made 19 of 26 free throws. Bluma led all scorers with 14 points and O?Connor added 10 as the Wildcats made 49 percent of their shots.

The key stat of the game was turnovers. Burlington committed only eight while the Trojans were guilty of 18 for the second straight game.

?Defensively, I thought our focus and sharpness wasn?t there in the second half,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?We got beat on a couple of cuts that were pretty easily. That gave them some excitement on offense because in the first half they didn?t get any of that.?

Hiebert laid out a similar scenario at the offensive end, too.

?We did some good things in the second half?we played as a team, spread the floor, kicked the ball, used our teammates,? he said. ?We weren?t sharp in the second half?our cuts were a little slower. We were kind of stagnant for a bit, not as aggressive to the ball coming of the screen. That really caused us some problems for our offense.?

HHS 48, Caney Valley 39

State quarterfinals

Survive and advance. That?s the only accomplishment necessary at this point of the season, and the Hillsboro girls accomplished that Thurs?day with a gritty, sometimes ugly, win over Caney Valley in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state tournament in the Hutchin?son Sports Arena.

Danae Bina was one of the few bright spots offensively for Hillsboro on a night when the Trojans committed 18 turnovers, made only one of 10 shots from behind the arc and had two scorers, Addie Lackey and Krista Reimer, in foul trouble for much of the evening.

Bina came off the bench to score 16 points, including eight points in the fourth quarter to keep the Bullpups at bay down the stretch.

?It?s a good thing it wasn?t a beauty contest, because it wasn?t very pretty, especially on the offensive end,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?But I was pleased with our defensive performance.?

Some credit for the Trojans? woes goes to the aggressive defense of Caney Valley. Fortunately, the Trojans? defense was even better, limiting the Bullpups to 10 percent shooting for the first half (2-20) and 24 percent for the game.

Both teams struggled for points in the opening quarter. Lackey hit the very first shot of the game and Caney Valley responded with a free throw and their only field goal of the period to take a 3-2 lead. When Bina scored her first basket, the Trojans claimed a 6-5 lead at the 2:45 mark and maintained it as the quarter ended. The two teams combined for 4-for-22 shooting during the period.

Lackey picked up her third foul at the 2:27 mark of the second period, sending her to the bench. Maci Schlehuber stepped up with a 3-pointer moments later to put HHS on top 15-9. The two teams traded a pair of points as the half ended with a 17-11 Hillsboro lead.

After Bina began the third quarter with a traditional three-point play, Caney Valley launched a 6-0 surge that closed the gap to 20-17 with 5:39 to left in the period. Lackey picked up her fourth foul that led to the final two free throws of the run and put the sophomore back on the bench.

In spite of that, Hillsboro extended the lead to 26-19 before Caney Valley?s Makenzie Vining drained a 3-pointer with 56 seconds left to cut the cushion to four points at the final break.

After the two teams traded two points to start the fourth period, Bina completed her second three-point play of the game at the 6:09 mark. Reimer scored in the paint on a nice feed from Lackey, Bina made three of four free throws, and Lackey and Reimer hooked up for one more basket to give HHS a 38-26 lead with 3:48 to go.

Lackey fouled out of the game moments later, but the Trojans held on to the victory, thanks to 8-for-12 shooting from the charity stripe over the final 3:12.

?Making free throws down the stretch was a huge key for us,? Hiebert said.

Reimer finished with 15 points to complement Bina?s production on offense, and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

?Krista was a force when she was in the game, but when she was out of the game, she really couldn?t do much on the bench,? Hiebert said. ?(Reimer and Lackey) did a good job of attacking the basket, and when they did that they got more fouls.?

The Trojans finished the game with 44 percent shooting (14-32) and made 19 of 26 free-throws. Caney Valley (18-6) made 15 of 18 free throws, but only 11 of 46 shots from the floor (24 percent).

Hiebert was particularly please with the defense of his guards, who held the Bullpups? two scorers, Bethany Barlow and Desiree Nelson, to two and seven points, respectively, on 2-19 shooting from the floor.

?Callie (Serene) did a great job on (Barlow),? he said. ?She was frustrated all night long and didn?t get many open looks. Steph (Sanders), Danae and Maci (Schlehuber) did a good job on (Nelson).?

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