Hillsboro teams advance
Lady Trojan basketball coach Nathan Hiebert admitted two things he was concerned about heading into the first round of the Ell-Saline sub-state Monday night at Hillsboro.
The Herington Railers had some size with Falon Kickhaefer, and Sarah Lietz, and speed with Jordyn Schrader.
Thanks to a quick 7-0 start, Hiebert had little to worry about as Hillsboro got a combined 47 points from the senior duo of Alex Ratzlaff and Tassanee Sanchez to crush Herington, 65-45.
Ratzlaff finished with a season-high 29 points off 9-for-15 from the floor to go along with eight rebounds.
The fourth-seed Trojans advance to Thursday night’s semifinals against top seed Moundridge, amidst snapping a five-game slide.
“Offensively, they started man to manning us and we were able to execute some of our play sets early,” Hiebert said. “We got easy looks and it makes for a lot of confidence when early on you can run what you want.”
Herington struggled all night against the stifling Trojan defense, which forced 22 turnovers that translated into 15 points.
Ratzlaff drained 5-of-7 from outside, her second three beating the first-quarter buzzer to put Hillsboro up 22-11.
The Railers didn’t go quietly, shooting 8-for-12 the second quarter, using a 9-2 run to pull as close as 30-26 with just under 3:00 left in the first half.
Herington was able to take advantage of open shots while limiting Hillsboro to its worst quarter of the night on 4-for-15 from the floor combined with six turnovers.
Still, the Trojans had a 35-27 lead at the break.
Any chance of the Railers sticking around was dashed the second half with Hillsboro yielding a chilly 16 percent and 38 overall.
The Trojans were able to enjoy a double-digit lead the rest of the way after a Sanchez basket made it 39-29 nearly 2:00 into the second half.
“When we showed a little patience, execution, shot, and rhythm, we had some nice things happen,” said Hiebert.
The Trojans will do battle with Moundridge at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Ell-Saline.
Little River gave Hillsboro all it could handle Tuesday, but the Trojans prevailed 54-50 to advance to Friday’s substate semifinals.
It took a pair of Austin Cross free throws with just 6 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
The Trojans played from behind in the first quarter until an Elias Werth 3-pointer, then maintained a slim lead through an evenly-matched third quarter.
Hillsboro will play Moundridge at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Ell-Saline.