The Hillsboro girls’ team had its hands full Friday against Haven, the No. 1 ranked team in Class 3A.
But the Trojans responded with their best first half of the season for a 27-25 lead by halftime. Haven retooled during intermission and showed their skills by defeating Hillsboro, 59-41.
Hillsboro came out showing its potential. Passes were on target and timely, shot selection was solid and their defense against a more athletic team was impressive.
By the end of the first quarter, the two teams were tied at 15—but only after Haven rallied for three transition baskets in the final 40 seconds after trailing 15-9.
The second quarter ended in a similar way. When Abby Sechrist scored at the 2:06 mark, Hillsboro led 27-20. But Haven rallied again, scoring a basket in the paint with 15 seconds left, then drawing a foul on a missed 3-point shot at the buzzer. Emmiley Hendrixson, Haven’s best shooter, made all three free-throws to pull her team to within 27-25.
The magic somehow escaped during intermission, as the Trojans struggled in the third quarter. Sechrist hit a 3-pointer at the 6:35 mark, but it was Hillsboro’s only field goal of the quarter. The Trojans ended the quarter with 1-for-10 shooting.
When Hendrixson hit a three with 8 seconds left, the Wildcats enjoyed a 45-31 lead by the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter wasn’t much better for the home team. Hillsboro scored 10 points, but surrendered 14 to give Haven their 18-point final margin.
Hendrixson finished with 20 points with Faith Paramore adding 14. Ten Wildcats scored before the game was over. As a team, Haven shot 34 percent (21-61) from the field.
Hillsboro was led by senior guard Sienna Kaufman, who scored 13 points, and Teegan Werth, who scored 10. Second-half shooting woes left the Trojans with 26 percent success for the game.
“I felt like the first half we were the aggressors,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “We attacked the basket hard, we took care of the ball, we took great shots. We didn’t make silly turnovers.
“Their big runs were off our poor transition defense,” he added. That’s really what hurt us. Our half-court defense was pretty good all night. The girls frustrated them quite a bit with that.”
The loss dropped Hillsboro to 6-4 for the season and 1-2 in the league. Haven remains undefeated.
Hoisington—The Hillsboro girls proved that good defense can sometimes be a team’s best offense. The Trojans pressured the Hoisington Cardinals all night long on the way to a 36-24 victory at home Jan. 9.
The win improved Hillsboro’s record to 6-3 for the season and 2-1 in the Central Kansas League.
So, what difference does aggressive defense make? On this night, Hillsboro limited the visitors to 16 percent shooting (8-50) for the game, including a 1-for-25 shutdown in the second half
As the game began, the Trojans weren’t exactly a team on fire, either. In the first quarter, Hillsboro made four of nine shots, but also committed seven turnovers.
Hoisington led at the first break, 12-9, with 5-for-11 shooting from the floor.
But Hillsboro lowered the boom the rest of the way. Hoisington shot 2-for-13 in the second quarter, 1-for-13 in the third quarter and 0-for-12 in the final quarter.
The Trojans took charge of the game with a strong offensive attack coming out of halftime. Trailing 17-16 at intermission, Hillsboro built a 31-21 lead by the time the quarter ended. Five players contributed points, including Kinsey Kleiner’s 3-point basket in the final second.
“Toward the end of the fist half, when we tried to run our sets, we just kind of slowed down,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “Hoisington was able to clog things up and we just settled for mediocre shots.
“We’ve been working on transition and we want to move and have some flow. A few transition baskets gave us a little confidence.”
Hillsboro managed only five points in the final quarter, but that was more than enough to secure their sixth victory in nine games.
Teegan Werth was the only Trojan to score in double-digits with 10 points. Sienna Kaufman added nine. Abby Sechrist scored only five points, but dominated the boards with 14 rebounds, including 10 on the defensive end.
“Teegan and Abby were fantastic,” Hiebert said. “Teegan was flying all over the court, there were so many times she got tips and got her hands on the ball and flustered them a lot. Abby had a lot of blocks (four), a lot of rebounds. Those two stepped up defensively and did some amazing things.”
Coming—Hillsboro will compete in the annual Trojan Classic tournament this week as the No. 5 seed. The Trojans were scheduled to play No. 4 Sunrise Academy on Tuesday with a 7:30 p.m. start.
Because of snow and ice and frigid temperatures, Tuesday’s games have postponed to Thursday with the same times and locations, and Friday and Saturday schedules should remain as first released.
Go to hillsborofreepress.com for Trojan same-day results.