Coming off a lopsided loss Tuesday, the Trojans (3-6) exhibited a defensive resolve they lacked against Smoky Valley.
?Our two goals at Smoky Valley were toughness and intensity?and we didn?t bring much of that,? coach Nathan Hiebert said. ?We talked about it?s time to change.
?In the second half (against Halstead), we had assists, we were running plays, the girls were getting to the right spot. Defensively, we had backside help, we got steals, they were jumping to the ball. I was very, very pleased with how the girls responded.?
That said, the Trojans had their hands full for three quarters against the 2-8 Dragons. Halstead led 10-8 after one quarter, but the free-throw shooting of Alex Ratz?laff enabled Hillsboro to take a 21-19 lead at the half.
Ratzlaff nailed six consecutive foul shots during one three-minute stretch, thanks to her aggressive drives to the basket.
?Against Smoky, we took a lot of outside shots early and often and they weren?t going?and this night they weren?t going in either,? Hiebert said. ?We talked about attacking the basket, and I thought Alex did a good job getting there.?
Both teams struggled for points in the third period. Ratzlaff?s two-pointer and three-pointer was all Hills?boro could muster, while freshman Kayla Newman scored all seven of Hal?stead?s points to pull the Dragons into a 26-26 tie as the quarter ended.
Hillsboro flipped a switch in the fourth quarter, dominating on both ends of the court. Five Trojans contributed to the team?s 19-point burst, while the defense forced eight Hal?stead turn?overs and shut down New?man and her teammates until the Dragons hit a free throw with 2:01 left. Daphne Williams hit a three-pointer with 13 seconds left.
Ratzlaff led Hillsboro with 23 points, but Tara Proffitt, playing perhaps her best game of the season, tossed in eight points?including a clutch three-pointer in the fourth quarter?to go along with a strong defensive effort.
Newman led Halstead with 16 points.
Smoky Valley?A cold-shooting Trojan squad was no match against the red-hot Vikings, enduring a 69-35 drubbing Tuesday at Linds?borg.
The Trojans fell behind 12-0 in the first 3:14 as the home team nailed its first five shots from the floor, then sank its first two free throws.
Callie Linnens finally broke the curse for Hillsboro with a basket at the 4:27 mark, but it would be Hills?boro?s only basket of the quarter in 12 attempts.
By the end of the quarter, Smoky led 19-2 on 8-for-9 shooting. For the game, the Vikings scorched the nets at the crazy rate of 65 percent (28-43). The final score could have been much worse had it not been for Smoky?s 21 turn?overs.
?Smoky Valley came out with a lot of energy and we did not,? coach Nathan Hie?bert said. ?Their first six to eight shots were 4 feet and in, and it was exactly what they wanted to get. Our first six to eight shots were all from the perimeter and they were not what we wanted to shoot early.
?Smoky Valley got some confidence, and that helped their shooting percentage.?
Hillsboro?s primary scorer, Alex Ratz?laff, was shut out in the first quarter, but her scoring skills are what kept Hillsboro within sight of the Vikings until the final quarter.
Smoky led 30-13 at halftime as the Trojans played the home team even-steven during the second quarter. Ratzlaff tossed in eight of the team?s 11 points.
?We had a stretch in the second quarter where I felt we did a better job?we got some deflections and some turnovers,? Hiebert said. ?Unfortunately, we didn?t convert on many of those turnovers.?
A miserable start to the third quarter left Hills?boro trailing 41-15 midway through the period and 48-21 by the end of it.
Ratzlaff scored 10 of her game-high 24 points in the first five minutes of the final quarter. But with both coaches subbing as the clock wound down, Smoky Valley finished the game with a 9-0 run.
Three Vikings scored in double figures, led by Han?nah Hattabaugh?s 19 points. The Trojans? next-highest scorer after Ratzlaff was Rebecca Kauf?man with three points. Hillsboro shot 27 percent from the field (13-49) and was out-rebounded, 40-21. With the loss, Hillsboro fell to 2-6 while the Vikings improved to 3-4.
Coming?Hillsboro (3-6) will open play at 6:30 p.m. Tues?day in the 21st annual Trojan Classic. The No. 7 seeded Trojans will take on No. 2 Republic County (7-3) in Brown Gymnasium.
A victory would mean a 3 p.m. game Friday against the winner of No. 3 Clay Center (6-3) and No. 6 Sunrise Academy in Brown Gym?nasium. A loss would pit the Trojans against the loser of that game at 3 p.m. in the Tabor College gym.
The tournament concludes Saturday with girls? games starting at 11 a.m. in the high school and middle school gyms.