It was Tena Loewen’s kind of game Friday at Haven.
The Hillsboro emphasis against the 3A state-ranked Wildcats was to play physical by getting the ball into the post and denying Haven’s back-door cut based offense.
“They’ve been a 4A school and 4A schools tend to be more physical,” head coach Nathan Hiebert said. “I told the girls they could not play weak against that.”
The Trojans’ offensive night was signified by Loewen posting up and then going up strong to finish baskets in the post. Loewen had 20 points in the game.
The Hillsboro perimeter players were also aggressive, finding lanes to attack the basket. To go along with four assists, Addie Lackey scored six consecutive points to help Hillsboro end the first quarter on an 11-0 run and put the Trojans up 17-8. Lackey had 14 points in the game, with the majority of those baskets coming within 12 feet of the hoop. It was more of the same for Danae Bina who had 10 points.
On the other end of the floor, the Trojans forced four turnovers in that stretch, part of 11 Haven turnovers in the game. The Trojans worked hard to deny backdoor cuts to Haven, although Hailey Davis still found her way to the basket as a part of an 18-point scoring night.
Loewen guarded Haven’s best player Ashley Rogers who scored eight points, but five points came when Loewen was helping on penetration in the fourth quarter.
The Hillsboro lead grew to 28-18 by halftime and 38-25 after the third quarter. Haven chipped away at the margin primarily with 3-point shooting in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats got as close as seven points, 44-37 with 32 seconds left before Hillsboro won, 46-39.
Haven hit six 3-pointers, primarily from the corners of the court. Hiebert wants the Trojans to aggressively close out on threes in the future. Loewen added that 3-pointers were the option that the Trojans made available to their opponent.
“In scouting we saw they were a cutting team,” Loewen said. “They took what we gave them.”
Christina Morris and Maddi Duerksen received starts for Hillsboro and made key contributions in the game. Morris had three points, four rebounds, and an assist.
“She definitely is a ‘just-get-the-job-done’ type of player,” Loewen said.
Duerksen started in place of Maci Schlehuber who was sick. While Duerksen did not record a basket, she held Samantha Stahlbaumer to four points.
“Her defense was tremendous,” Loewen said.
Part of the reason the margin decreased in the fourth quarter was that the Trojans struggled to score in the period. Centers Morris and Erin Winter sat with foul trouble. Forward Alex Ratzlaff came in and Loewen moved to center.
The freshman forward had not played in varsity game since a victory Dec. 21 in Marion because she was sidelined with an injury. While she played in junior varsity games on Feb. 12 and Friday, she seemed a little lost with the spacing and pace of the Trojans’ offense. Since she has been out, the Hillsboro offense has evolved with most of the action predicated off on-ball screens.
Loewen said it is only a matter of time before Ratzlaff is more at ease on a varsity court. She pointed out that the Ratzlaff has not missed a single Hillsboro practice.