Hillsboro girls bow out in heartbreaker
Berean outlasts Hillsboro, 37-36, in sub-state semifinals
Sure, the Hillsboro High School girls’ basketball team and coach Nathan Hiebert have enjoyed three consecutive winning seasons.
The Trojans’ best finish in eight years came a year ago, but the 19-4 season was marred by a crushing loss in the sub-state final.
Even when victories have been coming, there always has been something that hindered the Trojans’ attempts to survive until the second week of March — hot shooting.
Frigid 24% percent shooting wasn’t enough to get the job done in Thursday night’s semifinal game of the Remington sub-state between the fourth-seed Trojans and top-seed Berean Academy.
In the waning seconds of its season, Hillsboro had two shots to stay alive after fighting back from as many as 11 points behind. But neither of those went down.
The Warriors hung on for a 37-36 win, ending the Trojans’ season at 13-9, and ending the high school careers of seniors Emersyn Funk, Sammie Saunders, and Reece Hefley.
The loss was perhaps even harder to swallow considering how Berean horsewhipped the hosting Broncos in Saturday’s title game, 50-22, to clinch a ticket to Class 2A’s state tournament.
The good news is Hillsboro will return its top two scorers in sophomores Savannah Shahan and Zaylee Werth.
The duo were the Trojans’ most effective weapons in a game that saw a quartet of ties and the lead juggled six times before Berean climbed into the driver’s seat the second half.
Werth rolled up a game-high 14 points and Shahan tossed in 10 more to go along with her game-best seven rebounds. Werth dished out a game-high four assists and snagged six rebounds to beat the bigger Warriors, 33-32, on the boards.
Neither team could pull away in a low-scoring first half, which saw the score locked at 5-5 after the first quarter and Berean hanging on to a 15-13 lead at the break.
Berean hit 39% of its shots the first half, opposed to Hillsboro’s 32%, but the arctic blast had yet to hit the Trojans.
The game started slipping away in the third quarter behind Hillsboro’s 20% shooting. Berean hit 41% in the quarter to go on a 12-7 run.
Hillsboro gained ground in part because of the Warriors’ gruesome 28% from the free throw line, but the Trojans got no assistance from long range, only mustering a meager pair of threes, including going 1-for-11 in the second half.
Hillsboro outscored the Warriors 23-22 in the half, but Berean’s halftime lead was too much to overcome.