Lacking their characteristic zeal on defense, the Trojans nearly let victory slip through their fingers late in the game.
Coach Nathan Hiebert was clear about the reason: ??Our defense was pretty poor. I told our girls our defense was really the cause for not getting on much of a roll on offense.?
Hillsboro actually started well, leading 17-10 after one quarter. But Lyons?a team the Trojans had beaten by 20 points only 10 days earlier?were determined to stay within reach, and eventually pulled to within 37-35 as the third quarter
When Brenna McClure scored in the lane with 48 seconds left in regulation, Lyons stepped into the lead at 45-44.
Pushing the ball up the court, Danae Bina was fouled on a drive to the basket, then hit a pair of free throws to put the Trojans back on top with 27.7 seconds left.
When Lyons guard Ruth Pineda drew a foul with 11.1 seconds left, the 5-foot-2 freshman stood at the free-throw line with a one-and-one opportunity. She made her first shot to tie the score at 46, then missed the second one.
In that critical instant, the Trojans failed to block out, enabling Lyons to grab the rebound?and take five point-blank shots to win the game. Miraculously, none of the shots went in as time ran out.
Given new life in overtime, the Trojans soon gave Lyons the lead again by letting Rachel Minix get behind them for an easy basket 13 seconds into the extra 4-minute period.
After Bina tied the game at the 2:57 mark by hitting both ends of another one-and-one, Addie Lackey made the pivotal play of the night. The senior stole the ball from an unsuspecting Lyons guard, then raced down court for the go-ahead layup with 2:26 to play.
A chaotic minute later, Lackey sank both ends of a one-and-one, giving the Trojans some modest breathing room with a 52-48 lead.
After Lyons missed a shot, Hillsboro?s Darcy Hein?richs rebounded and was fouled. The junior missed her first shot on a one-and-one?but a lane violation by Lyons gave her a second chance. Heinrichs then made one of her next two free throws for a 53-48 lead.
McClure scored with 25 seconds left to make it a one-possession game, but Bina was fouled once more with 9 seconds left. The sure-shooting senior made both double-bonus free throws to seal the victory.
Hiebert wondered afterward whether it was because the Trojans are ranked No. 1 that they struggled so much against the 2-4 Lions.
?I told the girls we can?t come with the mentality that we?ve won all these other things, we?re just going to win this too,? he said. ?Basket?ball is completely different than any other sport. It?s unlike any of the other sports the girls play.
?We think our athleticism and our skill as players is just going to happen. It seems we forgot to tell them there?s another team that can actually touch them and stop them. Right now we?re not handling (success) as good as we should.?
Lackey led all scorers with 23 points while Bina finished with 19. McClure led Lyons with 17.
Halstead?Hillsboro made up for a slow start with super third quarter en route to a 47-20 rout of the Dragons last Tuesday in the Trojans? home opener.
Darcy Hein?richs hit an early free-throw as the game got under way, but it took nearly 4 minutes before Addie Lackey scored the Trojans? first field goal. Even so, Hillsboro led 3-2 to that point.
Then Alex Ratzlaff caught fire, scoring seven points, including back-to-back steals for baskets in the final two minutes for a 12-2 lead as the quarter ended.
?We were just going to the motions, we weren?t jumping to the ball,? coach Nathan Hiebert said about the start. ?We practiced pretty sloppy yesterday and we weren?t very intense.
Danae Bina hit the first two baskets to start the second quarter for a 16-2 spread. But the Dragons actually outscored Hillsboro during the period, 10-8.
?Even though we got up by double digits in the first quarter, we only won two quarters tonight,? Hiebert said. ?That?s one of our goals to win all four quarters. I was really disappointed we only won two.?
Following halftime, a different Trojan team took the court. Keying off defensive pressure that forced 11 Hal?stead turn?overs, Hills?boro?s transition game fueled a 22-2 death blow to the Dragons? hopes. Lackey threw in 11 points during the run and Ratzlaff seven.
?We weren?t going through the motions,? Hiebert said of the surge. ?We were attacking the hole, we were aggressive.
?Every run that we?ve gotten starts with defense because we get easy buckets,? Hiebert said. ?It gets us into the momentum and speed of the game that we want to play. Our girls don?t function as well just walking through things.?
The fourth quarter was mostly a fait accompli. The Trojans came close to reaching a running clock, but just missed the 30-point margin. Hiebert cleared his bench for the final 3 minutes as his No. 1 ranked Class 2A team cruised to the 27-point win.
Coming?Hillsboro will return to action Jan. 3 when the Trojans host Marion at Brown Gymnasium. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.