Vice grip defense was the key
The Hillsboro High School girls’ basketball team defeated Moundridge Friday in Moundridge, 35-23, to win the Moundridge tournament.
The Trojans held Moundridge to a single point in the first half. For the game, Moundridge shot 7-for-40 from the field, but only committed nine turnovers.
The Wildcats highest scoring quarter was 13 in fourth, which was built after Hillsboro pulled its regulars with a 30-13 advantage.
The Trojans, as an entire team, played stifling off-the-ball defense all game. Moundridge’s offense is based on motion, running girls off multiple screens to get open looks. The Wildcats only easy passes were on the perimeter and with a Trojan guard close by.
“I’m surprised we didn’t get any 5-second calls,” head coach Nathan Hiebert said. “The girls did a fantastic job.”
Early in the game, Hillsboro played defense for nearly a minute on some possessions. Even with fatigue, the Trojans did not relent an easy shot.
Tena Loewen held Moundridge’s high scorer, MacKenzie Suderman to 11 points. Loewen ended the game with three steals.
“Tena is just a fantastic defensive player,” Hiebert said. “She doesn’t gamble a lot.”
The next highest scorer for Moundridge had 5 points.
The Trojan guards, employing man-to-man full-court pressure, hassled point guard Renae Stucky every time up the court. Callie Serene, Danae Bina, Maci Schlehuber, and Stephanie Sanders all took turns checking Stucky.
The Trojans also started off slow offensively, scoring single digits in the opening two periods. Serene jump-started the Hillsboro attack by penetrating into the middle of the Wildcat’s 2-3 zone. She hit the Trojans first two baskets, a step back jumper off a drive and a spot-up 3-pointer.
“She’s a talented shooter,” Hiebert said of Serene. “I just don’t like us being passive. When we (attacked) good things happened.”
Serene was the second leading scorer for Hillsboro with 7 points. Addie Lackey led the team with 10 points and eight rebounds. Lackey scored more as Hillsboro received more transition opportunities in the later two quarters.
The Trojans shot 46.9 percent from the field, out-rebounded Moundridge 23-16, and recorded seven assists as a team.
“It’s a good start,” Lackey said. “3-0 feels good.”
Based on the stat sheet, the Hillsboro High School girls’ basketball team should not have even been in the game with Garden Plain Thursday at the Moundridge Tournament.
The Trojans were outrebounded, lost the turnover margin, and shot worse from the free-throw line.
“We feel like we have a lot of things to work on yet,” Loewen said.
But, Hillsboro was able to overcome a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Defense was the key for the Trojans as they escaped with a 43-42 win.
Coach Nathan Hiebert, credited his guards for smothering pressure defense in the third quarter that created key turnovers and allowed Hillsboro to erase a 28-17deficit.
Starting point guard Stephanie Sanders hit the floor in pursuit of loose balls, she also nailed three crucial 3-point baskets during the game.
Callie Serene picked up the ball on a steal and went to the line with 10.4 seconds left. She sank the winning free throw, the second of two chances. She also drilled the 3-pointer to put Hillsboro up 37-35 with just over 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Serene was aided by the suffocating defense of Danae Bina on the final steal. The sophomore guard came off the bench for Hillsboro during the third quarter and was an attacking force for the Trojan defense.
“They never looked like they were on balance,” Hiebert said of the Owls on offense.
At the top of Hillsboro’s 2-2-1 press and 2-3 zone, Bina forced three turnovers in the third quarter. Constantly on the hip of Garden Plain ball handlers, Bina also forced two 5-second calls.
“Danae came in and sparked that for us,” Loewen said. “It was definitely what we needed.”
Bina’s defensive effort transferred to offense as well. She got an assist on a Sanders 3-pointer. She hit a spot up jumper from the free-throw line to give Hillsboro its first lead, 35-34, since the first quarter. She also sank a baseline floater.
The Trojans did not shoot free throws well down the stretch. Three Hillsboro players had a chance to give the Trojans a 3-point lead in the final minute but could not hit their first foul shot attempts.
“I just want girls to come away with how important free throws are; how important rebounding is,” Hiebert said.
Loewen was the leading scorer with 10 points. She was also the leading rebounder, notching five offensive boards.
“Boarding is one of my favorite things to do,” Loewen said. “It’s not my favorite, but one of my favorites.”
Addie Lackey and Sanders scored 8 points each.