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Lady Trojans 6-0 start credited to selfless play

Staff writer

In an example of one of the teams traits — humility — Hillsboro High School senior Allie Faul quickly downplayed the Lady Trojans 6-0 start.

“We haven’t played the toughest competition,” she said.

Faul has a point — the Trojans have defeated their opponents by an average of 14.5 points per game. But Hillsboro players did not have the opportunity to choose their opponents. They have done their jobs, fulfilling different roles on a diverse team to keep the Trojans winning.

The expectations for the team were not especially high before the season began. The Trojans returned two starters from last year’s state tournament team and they lost their leading scorer, rebounder, and distributer.

“I knew we had the potential of doing pretty well,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “I didn’t know who was going to step up.”

The statistics from the early part of the season show that the 6-0 start is not a fluke.

Hiebert said he has started a different lineup every game this season. The Trojans employ a deep bench, using 12 players for at least 5 minutes a game. Against Moundridge, 11 Trojans recorded points; against Marion, nine Hillsboro players scored.

“It’s huge if teams are trying to scout you and you get 11 girls in the score book,” Hiebert said. “A lot of teams, there’s a girl who is your only shooter.”

Hillsboro has had four different leading scorers in games this season. Tena Loewen is the only Trojan to perform the feat twice, with her high score of 21 coming against Sterling. Faul, Addie Lackey, and Krista Reimer also topped the Trojans’ scoring column. Against Moundridge, several players tied as leading scorer with 9 points apiece.

“It’s not like last year,” Faul said. “We have a lot of girls who can score.”

Faul is the point guard and primary ball handler for the Trojans. Although the Trojans have many options offensively, Faul said it is easy to keep her teammates happy.

“The 6-0 start is a good testament to our team,” Hiebert said. “It’s a testament to their unselfishness and work ethic.”

While all the players contribute, the selfless play starts with the other returning starter for the Trojans, Loewen.

“She’s so smart and so unselfish,” Hiebert said. “She just cares about the team.”

Against Marion, Loewen showed a reluctance to take any shot that was even remotely contested, choosing to defer to her teammates. To guard against the drive, Warrior defenders laid well off Loewen, daring her to shoot from long distance. Even so, the sophomore finished the game with 11 points.

“She’s our leading rebounder and one of our leading scorers,” Hiebert said. “As coaches, we ask her to do a lot.”

He has asked Loewen to play every position on the court throughout the season, from point guard to center and to guard the opposing team’s best player. She has the height, speed, quickness, and leaping ability to guard a post or perimeter player.

“She’s spending a lot of energy defending their top players,” Hiebert said. “If that’s what the team needs that’s what she’ll do.”

Both Faul and Loewen set the tone for the Trojans at the defensive end of the floor. Faul is one of Hillsboro’s top pickpockets and regularly pesters opposing guards all the way up the court.

Faul said she and fellow senior Becky Faber lead the corps of talented guards by example defensively.

“We’ve been with Mr. Hiebert; we know what he expects,” Faul said. “Defense is his No. 1 thing. He says each practice should be better than the last and just intensity and how hard we work.”

Faber is a stout on-ball defender for the Trojans, often defending an opposing team’s best guard.

Hiebert said the most important component of Hillsboro’s fourth quarter comeback victory over Smoky Valley was the guard pressure that bothered Viking ball handlers, making passes to their two post scorers more difficult.

Junior Courtney Weber and freshman Danae Bina are also defensive stalwarts that can either start or come off the bench.

Hiebert praised Weber’s intelligence at the defensive end of the court, saying she was always positioned correctly. He said he has no qualms playing Weber against a guard or a forward.

Bina may be the most athletic of all of the Hillsboro guards.

“We’ve found that she works extremely hard and is talented defensively,” Hiebert said.

For Junior Callie Serene and sophomore Maci Schlehuber, offense is their specialty.

Serene is the Trojans’ sharpshooter, deadly from the corners when Hillsboro faces a zone.

Schlehuber has shown the ability to hit a variety of shots when she receives an opportunity.

The biggest surprise for Hillsboro this season has been freshman forward Addie Lackey, although she showed flashes of her athleticism as she gained playing time with the Hillsboro volleyball team this past fall.

“It doesn’t matter what grade you’re in,” Faul said.

Playing her favorite sport, Lackey has shown a versatility that can only be matched by Loewen. She has played positions one through five, demonstrating that she can handle the ball, pass, drive, and shoot.

“She’s hard to defend,” Hiebert said. “She has made passes very few players can make.”

Coming into the season, Hiebert had heard talk about Lackey — a new girl that had moved into town that could possibly be a star on the team. He tried to ignore the talk to be fair to Lackey and the returning players.

“If you’re going to be on the varsity court, you have to play good defense and handle the ball,” Hiebert said.

Lackey started with the freshman team but it was quickly apparent that she possessed the skills and work ethic to play right away. She led the Trojans in scoring against Lyons and has shown the skills, including a few post moves, that may allow her to score prolifically.

“She scored very well in the first three games,” Hiebert said. “When teams started scouting, she’s gotten better defenders.”

Joining Lackey and Loewen as 5-foot-11 players, Krista Reimer gives the Trojans a true presence in the post. Reimer has topped the score chart once herself and has a nice touch at a 10-to-12-foot range.

As another hybrid wing and post player, Amy Bartel gives the Trojans a spark off the bench.

“She’s a change of pace,” Hiebert said. “She gets easy layups because she sprints the floor every time. She attacks as hard as she can.”

Emma and Elise Heyen are also 5-foot-11 post players who can block shots and put in baskets around the rim.

So far, Hiebert said part of the team’s success stems from a lack of drama. Hiebert’s theme for the season has been family, with the realization that each person has an important role in that family.

The players have unselfishly accepted their roles on the team, knowing that performing that role will be reflected in Hillsboro’s overall record.

“A lot of times girls just want an opportunity,” Hiebert said. “We want everyone to feel like they’re responsible for making everyone else better.”

Last modified Jan. 5, 2011

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