With the Hillsboro and Marion girls sitting on opposite ends of the success spectrum so far this season, the undefeated Trojans? 54-29 victory last Tuesday over the winless Warriors likely didn?t surprise a lot of fans.
But during the first several minutes of Hillsboro?s first home game of the season, the outcome was anything but clear.
Both teams struggled to score for almost four minutes. But when Hillsboro?s Callie Serene nailed a three-point shot at the 4:15 mark, the senior guard ignited a 14-2 run that carried the Trojans to a solid 15-4 advantage at the first break.
Maci Schlehuber contributed a three-pointer shortly after Serene hit her first one, and Serene added a second three with 1:12 left in the quarter.
If Marion hoped to regroup in the second quarter, the Trojans squelched that aspiration with seven unanswered points in the first 2:20 of the period?including Serene?s third three.
Hillsboro completed the quarter with 13-2 scoring edge. Serene?s 11 points led all scorers at intermission.
?We had good ball movement, we got some better shots,? coach Nathan Hiebert said of the surge. ?Callie had a nice first half with some threes and a pull-up jump shot.?
The Trojans pushed its 28-6 halftime lead to 42-11 by the end of the third quarter, getting a boost from Krista Reimer, who scored six of her season-best eight points in a span of 3:15 midway through the period.
With a 31-point difference heading into the final quarter, the rest of the game was played with a running clock.
For all of the scoring, defense was key to Hillsboro?s domination. Tena Loewen, who led the Trojan scoring with 12 points, held Marion?s top player, Whitney Gordon, without a field goal through three quarters. When the Trojan reserves took over in the final period, Gordon scored seven of her team-high eight points.
Hiebert praised Loewen?s effort against Marion?s 6-foot-2 senior, who has verbally committed to play basketball next year at the University of Wyoming.
?Tena does a nice job,? Hiebert said. ?She?s got a nice long wing?span, she closes out really well and she makes people rush their shots a little more. She did a great job on Whitney.?
As a team, Hillsboro shot a tepid 34 percent from the field (21-61), but limited Marion to 27 percent (10-37) on 24 fewer shots.
The Trojans, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, enter the break with a 6-0 record while Marion dropped to 0-5. The Trojans have been averaging just over 51 points a game and their average margin of victory is just over 21 points.
?We?ve set several goals for the season, so we?re trying to check one off at a time,? Hiebert said. ?One of them was to win the Moundridge tournament, and we got that. One of our goals was to be undefeated going into Christmas break, and we?ve got that now.?
Even though the Trojans didn?t play any league games before Christmas, Hiebert said every victory is important.
?There?s been some years that we?ve had some losses in early season, and it really does hurt further down the line.
?When we go to the Trojan Classic and to sub-state and state, those losses all hurt. Having a better record is going to help us get a better first-round game.?
During the break he hopes to ?tweak? the team?s motion offense, add a few more set plays and work on attacking zone defenses. He also hopes to work on individual skills.
Hillsboro will return to action Jan. 3 when Halstead comes to Brown Gymnasium.