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Hillsboro girls win one, lose one

News editor

The Hillsboro Trojans girls’ basketball team already knew too well that making turnovers can lose games. They learned Friday that forcing turnovers can win them, smothering Larned with aggressive defense that led to a 34-26 win in Hillsboro.

The Trojans applied heavy pressure from the outset, extending the defense on the perimeter with double and triple teams. Alex Ratzlaff scored Hillsboro’s first seven points off steals and forced errors.

“The past games we’ve been slow coming out and we’ve picked up the defense in the second half,” guard Allison Weber said. “Our goal was to do that at the beginning of the game.”

“We’ve been working on trapping a lot,” Ratzlaff said. “We’re not very big, so with our scrappy little girls, defense is what’s going to carry us.”

When the Indians held onto the ball, they shot a respectable 40 percent from the field, while the Trojans hit just 27 percent. But Hillsboro put up 18 more shots than Larned thanks to defensive pressure that forced the Indians into 33 turnovers for the game.

The Trojans trailed 10-12 late in the second quarter when Marah Franz stole the ball and zipped it out to Ratzlaff, who drained a 3-pointer. Larned answered with a bucket, but Ratzlaff drained another trey to put the Trojans up 16-14.

“That really boosted our energy and our confidence,” Weber said of Ratzlaff’s dual treys. “Our goal was to do inside-out threes, and that was the key to those quick points.”

Franz was fouled after making yet another steal and hit one of two free throws to give Hillsboro a 17-14 lead at the half.

True to form, the Trojans turned up the defensive heat coming out of the locker room. The Indians had a miss and a put-back on the first possession of the third quarter, and didn’t get off another shot for the next six minutes.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn Wiens, Abby Sechrist, Darcy Heinrichs, and Ratzlaff combined for 11 points in the quarter to push the Trojans’ lead to 28-18.

A 12-foot turnaround jumper by Callie Linnens midway through the final period gave the Trojans their biggest lead, 34-20. Hillsboro didn’t score again, but rode its defense the rest of the way for the win.

Ratzlaff led all scorers with 19 points, with seven other Trojans collecting points.

Weber and Ratzlaff agreed this was the first game the team maintained its defensive intensity from beginning to end.

“We know we can keep our energy up, and that will help a lot, because we haven’t experienced that this year,” Weber said.

“On defense, Marah had multiple steals, Alison had some steals, Tara had some steals, and now they know that, ‘Wow, I was aggressive, and something turned out,’” Ratzlaff said. “Now we can start being more aggressive as a whole team and turn it up a notch for the next games.”

Smoky Valley

Flying high from Friday’s win, the Trojans came back to earth Tuesday with a 69-35 loss to Smoky Valley in Lindsborg.

The Trojans couldn’t hit anything in the first quarter as the Vikings raced to a 19-2 lead.

Hillsboro played Smoky Valley even in the second quarter, but the 17-point Vikings lead grew to 27 points by the end of the third.

Ratzlaff was the lone offensive bright spot for the Trojans, scoring 24 points. No other Hillsboro player scored more than three.

Last modified Jan. 15, 2015

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