It wasn?t easy. It wasn?t pretty. But the results were more than satisfying as the Hills?boro Trojan girls slipped past the Remington Broncos, 37-35, in the sub-state cham?pionship game Saturday at Halstead.
Addie Lackey?s 12-foot jumper with 16 seconds left in overtime capped a gritty second-half comeback from a seven-point halftime deficit in a game where points were hard to come by.
The win earns the Trojans (19-4) a berth in the Class 3A state tournament in Hutchinson for the third year in a row under coach Nathan Hiebert, and a fourth trip in five years.
?I?m just very proud of these girls,? Hiebert said.
For senior Allie Faul, the wins means a rare opportunity to be a three-year starter at state, and she wants to play more than one game.
?This one feels a little like my time, since it?s my senior year,? said the Trojan point guard. ?This is the year I really want to do it? I just want to win our first round and go on.?
The Trojans got off to a great start when Krista Reimer scored the first basket 29 seconds into the contest and Callie Serene followed with a three-pointer at the 5:39 mark for a 5-0 lead.
But Remington?s Quin Tillot?son responded with the next five points on a couple of drives for baskets, plus a bonus free throw.
Reimer scored again with 3:06 left in the first quarter to give Hillsboro its last lead until the overtime period. The two teams were tied at 7 after the first break, and again at 9 just over three minutes into the second period.
But with Hillsboro missing its next six shots and turning the ball over four times, Remington ended the half with a 9-0 run to go into the locker room with a 16-7 lead. Hillsboro?s only points in the period were single free throws by Lackey and Tena Loewen.
?Remington?s a fantastic team, but they play a game where they get back in a zone, and they make it a methodical game,? Hiebert said. ?They?re willing to take three minutes off the clock to get one bucket.
?It was tough for our girls because we?re used to playing at a little higher tempo,? he added. ?The first half, we couldn?t get them into the up-tempo. In the third and fourth quarter, we got some steals and pressure that really helped us out mentally a lot.?
Faul said the rough first half was due in part to nerves.
?We had gone (to state) the past few years and felt a lot of pressure to go again,? she said. ?I think we kind of went in a little too relaxed, and then, when we realized it wasn?t going to be an easy game we got kind of stressed out and really nervous.?
Serene signaled a positive start to the third quarter when she drained a three from the top of the key 13 seconds in. But Remington didn?t wilt, and when Mandy McNeill nailed a three-pointer with 2:35 to go, the Broncos were again ahead by seven, 25-18.
Then, on consecutive possessions 20 seconds apart, the Trojans stole the ball and Lackey and Loewen ended up scoring on the other end. Suddenly, Hills?boro was within three, 25-22. By the end of the quarter, Reming?ton had bumped the lead to 28-24.
Faul said it marked a turning point.
?When we got those couple of steals in a row defensively, then we were like, OK we can do it now,? she said. ?In the fourth quarter, we finally started playing our game. We started to relax and everything went our way again.?
Lackey started the final period with a 16-foot basket, and when Reimer added a free throw at the 6:47 mark, the Trojans were within a point, 28-27.
But Hillsboro hit another cold spell, missing its next four shots, including back-to-back-to-back three-point attempts. When Serene was fouled on the fourth consecutive miss from behind the arc, she managed one of three free throws to pull HHS?into a 28-28 tie with 3:01 left in regulation.
Neither team scored again until Tillotson drove to the basket with 43 seconds to go. After a Trojan timeout, Loewen drew a foul on a shot in the paint and calmly drilled both free throws to tie the game at 30 with 27 second left.
Loewen then preserved the tie when she forced a Bronco turnover with five seconds remaining.
Tillotson started the scoring in overtime with a free throw at the 3:02 mark. On the next possession, Lackey scored off an inbounds pass on the Trojan end, was fouled and swished the free throw for a two-point Hillsboro lead with 2:09 left.
Remington?s Jessi Green scored at the other end 20 seconds later. The two teams then combined for four empty possessions on three turnovers and a missed shot.
But the third turnover was a steal by Allie Faul who passed ahead to Lackey for the layup and a 35-33 lead with 50 second left.
Tillotson tied the game one more time with 29 seconds to play before Lackey scored her winning basket 13 seconds later. After a timeout with six seconds to go, Loewen sealed the win by intercepting Remington?s inbounds pass.
?Our defensive intensity picked up in the third quarter,? Hiebert said. ?We got some steals that got us some easy buckets, and I think that was one of the big differences just because it gave us some energy on the defensive end.?
Lackey overcame a sub-par first half to score 13 of her team-high 14 points in the second half.
?She?s a player, she really is,? Hiebert said of the freshman. ?Early on you could see she was a little frustrated. This is kind of a big stage and, being a freshman, she?s not used to these situations.
?There at the end she kind of stopped thinking about that and just played.?
Hillsboro managed to prevail despite being outshot from the floor, 28 percent (13-46) to 38 percent (12-32) and from the free-throw line (9-16 to 10-13).
?We were a little bit more aggressive to the basket in the second half, but we still took a lot of outside shots,? Hiebert said. ?All my timeouts I was saying we needed to attack the basket and get inside the paint, but the next shot would be outside.?
One area Hillsboro held the advantage was turnovers. The Trojans benefited from 29 Bronco mistakes while committing 14 of their own.
Tillotson led all scorers with 17 points. Remington, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, finished its season at 20-3.
As one of the few players on th is young Trojan squad with significant state experience, Faul said she?ll do her best to help her teammates maintain perspective as they prepare for Wednesday?s first-round game.
?I?m going to try and tell them that we don?t need to have nerves,? she said. ?We?ll have nerves, of course, but the nerves shouldn?t affect our game because if we just play, everything will happen the way it should.?
HHS 52, Hutch Trinity 26
Senior Allie Faul stepped up with 17 points to lead Hillsboro past Hutchin?son Trinity, 52-26, in the Thursday?s semifinal match-up.
Krista Reimer set the tone by hitting the first shot of the night 29 seconds into the contest. Seven Trojans contributed points to their 14-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Celtics never made a serious run during the contest, but remained within striking distance at halftime at 27-15?even after Callie Serene put an exclamation point on Hillsboro?s effort by hitting a three-pointer in the final second.
The Trojans? 7-0 run in the final 2:17 of the third quarter expanded that lead to 41-23 as the buzzer sounded. An 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter had both coaches pulling their starters for the final three minutes of play.
Faul, scoring from short and long range, enjoyed her second most productive game of the season as the Trojans improved to 18-4. Tena Loewen added 11 points and Addie Lackey nine.
As a team, HHS converted 20 of 36 shots from the floor (56 percent) while holding the Celtics to 27 percent shooting (8-30) and forcing them into 18 turnovers.
Trinity?s apparent go-to player, Elizabeth Degner, led her team with eight points.
?I was very, very pleased with everything we did,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?We pressured them really well and made them work for everything. (Degner) had to work every single time she had the ball. She?s a good point guard for them, but we got her frustrated. You could see that early.?
A the other end of the court, Hiebert said he was pleased with the way his team attacked the basket, which has not been a consistent element of their game in recent weeks.
?Early on we attacked the basket really, really well,? he said. ?We got them into some foul trouble, which was really good. The girls listened to what we wanted to do as a game plan and executed that.?