Slow start thwarts Trojan title hopes

The Hillsboro girls matched Holcomb point for point in the first half of their third-place game on Saturday, but the Longhorns slowly pulled away in the second half for a 48-35 win over the host team on the final night of the Trojan Classic.

Hillsboro led 8-7 midway through the opening quarter, but a streak of four turn­overs, combined with three missed shots, enabled Holcomb to establish a 13-8 lead as the quarter ended.

When senior Abby Sechrist hit a 3-point basket at the 5:40 mark of the second quarter, Hills­boro was back in the battle by cutting Holcomb’s lead to 15-13.

The Trojans then encountered another rough stretch with four more turn­overs and three missed shots. Freshman Kinsey Kleiner ended the slump with a 3-point basket with 42 seconds left in the half. It brought Hillsboro to within 17-16 entering intermission.

As the third quarter began, the Longhorns began to stampede. Hillsboro’s Trinity Malm scored in the first minute, but the Trojans didn’t score again until Sienna Kaufman hit a basket midway through the quarter.

Kleiner hit her second 3-pointer of the game with 1:41 left, but Holcomb scored 16 points during the drought for a 33-22 lead as the third quarter ended.

Hillsboro revived in the fourth quarter as the Trojans scored points on eight of their first nine possessions. When Teegan Werth drove the lane and scored, Hills­boro was within 40-34 with 3:13 to play.

Unfortunately, Hills­boro managed only one free throw the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Holcomb went 8-for-8 at the free-throw line to secure the third-place plaque and their 13-point victory.

Werth led Hillsboro with 10 points, Sechrist and Kauf­man each added eight. The Trojans shot 32 percent (13-41) from the floor.

“Offensively, when we move the ball from side to side, we can get great shots,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. ‘“A lot of possessions we struggled to get one pass. or two passes. When that happened we took a lot of contested shots. It just doesn’t create a lot of flow or rhythm.

“In the second half, when we were making a run, the ball moves, we were cutting to the basket, we were sharing the ball. We were getting better pep, better movement and we scored more.”

Eboni Sapien led the Long­horns with 18 points. Her team shot 31 percent (15-49) from the floor.

Clay Center 39, Hillsboro 18

Game 2, Friday, Trojan Classic

Coming off an impressive offensive performance Thursday against Sunrise Academy, the Trojans suffered one of their worst offensive performances in the semifinals.

Hillsboro’s downfall wasn’t simply poor shooting, because the Trojans launched only five shots the entire first quarter. Instead, it was their 11 turnovers in the first quarter. The Tigers took advantage of the miscues and posted a 13-0 lead as the quarter ended.

“Their defense is what killed us,” Hiebert said afterward. “We didn’t handle pressure well. For a young group of girls, I was hoping the upperclassmen would handle it a little bit better.”

The shutout continued until the 5:15 mark of the second quarter when senior Abby Sechrist drove the lane and scored Hillsboro’s first basket. Teegan Werth managed a layup with 1:26 left in the first half for a 20-4 deficit by intermission.

The situation could have been worse for Hillsboro, but the Tigers committed seven turnovers and shot only 3-for-11 from the floor during the second quarter for the lackluster score.

Both teams struggled offensively during the second half. Clay Center led 28-10 after three quarters and finished with a 21-point victory to advance to the finals on Saturday.

Sienna Kaufman led the Trojans with eight points, Werth added five. As a team, the Trojans shot a season-low 17 percent from the floor. Clay Center wasn’t much more productive, making only 27 percent of their shots.

Hiebert did see some positive signs from his maturing team including seven blocked shots by Sechrist.

“She’s been a huge difference for us defensively,” Hiebert said. “When we don’t close out well or break down, she’s saved us quite a bit.”

Hillsboro 60, Sunrise 41

Game 1, Thursday, Trojan Classic

With freshman Teegan Werth breaking loose with 22 points, Hillsboro rolled to an impressive victory over Sunrise Academy in their opening game of the Trojan Classic.

“It was a good team win,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “We pushed the tempo, we got some easy transition baskets. Defensively, we really frustrated them early on.”

The Trojans established an 11-6 edge after one quarter, but a 22-8 second quarter put the Trojans firmly in the driver’s seat with a 33-14 halftime lead.

In the second half, the Trojans outscored the Buffaloes 15-11 in the third quarter. Sunrise claimed the fourth quarter, 16-12, but Hillsboro was never threatened.

“We did a nice job,” Hiebert said. “It was a lot of fun. If you look at it percentage-wise, it was one of our best shooting nights.”

The Trojan coach had praise for Werth’s breakout game.

“Teegan did a really good job of getting her feet set, and she took quality shots,” Hiebert said. “The other girls did a great job of getting her great looks, inside out, and moving the ball.”

Senior Abby Sechrist contribute 11 points. Eight Trojans scored during the victory.

As a team, Hillsboro shot 41 percent (21-51) from the floor, including a solid 4-for-8 from behind the arc. The Trojans made 14 of 23 free-throw attempts (61 percent).

The Buffaloes were led by Tailey Chandler with 15 points. Sunrise made 35 percent of their field-goal attempts (18-51), including 1-for-5 from 3-point territory.

The big difference in the game was free-throw opportunities. Sunrise shot only five charities the entire game, and made four.

Hillsboro dominated the boards, 51-18. Freshman Jessica Saunders led with six boards to go with her seven points. Sechrist, Dani Klein and Werth were credited with five rebounds each.

Coming—With their 1-2 record during the Classic, the Trojans will take a week off from games before taking their 7-6 record to Council Grove on Jan. 30. The Braves are ranked No. 4 in Class 3A.

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