Lady Trojans secure third place in Class 3A
Hillsboro avenges earlier loss crushing TMP, 53-27
Revenge is sweet and the timing was perfect.
Less than 18 hours after having their hopes of a Class 3A state girls basketball title crumble at the hands of eventual champ Wichita Collegiate, the Hillsboro High School Lady Trojans were left with the tough task of having to regroup to try for third place Saturday afternoon at Hutchinson.
Luckily, Hillsboro was facing an opponent it knew well, the Thomas More Prep Lady Monarchs, who dealt the Trojans a tough overtime loss two months earlier in the semifinals of Hillsboro’s Trojan Classic.
Not only was pride on the line and a chance to end the 2010-11 season on a winning note, the Trojans could also get some payback for the earlier loss along with delivering coach Nathan Hiebert a birthday present he won’t forget.
The sixth-seeded Trojans did all three, not to mention giving their coach a round of “Happy Birthday to You” after the game.
Using a stifling defense to hold the Monarchs to a frigid 25 percent shooting, Tena Loewen dropped a game-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as Hillsboro demolished the defending Class 3A state champion, 53-27.
“It’s a great birthday present,” Hiebert said. “I’m very happy with the girls today and the way they played, so it is a nice birthday present. We did a fantastic job and right from the start, I thought we did some good things.
“We kept rolling and we did a nice job. We talked a lot about the gaps in the match-up zone and we wanted to attack inside. We didn’t hit a 3 the whole game.”
Shooting 60 percent from the floor, including a blistering 75 percent in the second half, is enough to win plenty of games, but the Trojan defense kept TMP from ever getting into the game.
Loewen made 6 of her 14 first-half points in the opening quarter and with Addie Lackey’s steal and fast-break, Hillsboro jumped out to a 12-3 lead nearly 7 minutes in before the Monarchs cut the lead to 12-8 to start the second half.
The Trojans have known about Monarch standout Rachel Jacobs, whom Hiebert believes was one of the two premier players at Hutchinson, for quite some time.
The junior Jacobs was instrumental in the Trojans loss in January, but Hillsboro was more than ready for her this time, holding her to a slim 9 points.
The Trojans kept their foot on the gas in the second quarter while TMP started leaking oil, mustering a woeful 1-for-12 and a mere field goal for 20 percent shooting in the first half.
Loewen kept imposing her will on the Monarchs, stretching the Hillsboro lead to 22-10 before Lackey’s last-second shot left doubled up TMP at halftime, 24-12.
“We had motivation coming off that loss (with Collegiate),” Loewen said. “I thought I had more support behind me today. We played our game and we took what we did best and put that into action. It was more about what we did than what they did. We took care of what we needed to, and that took them out.”
The Trojans blew the lid off the game in the first 1:35 of the second half with Loewen’s basket stretching the lead to 28-12.
Hillsboro’s pressure defense forced 5 turnovers on the Monarchs’ first 5 possessions and the Trojans were well on their way to the third-place plaque with a commanding 34-19 lead heading into the last quarter of the season.
With the game firmly in control and Hillsboro outscoring the Monarchs, 19-8, in the fourth quarter behind near-flawless 6-for-7 shooting, Hiebert emptied his bench with 1:52 left in the season.
Of the Trojans’ 12 players, only two didn’t manage to score with senior Allie Faul closing out a spectacular career with 6 points.
Hillsboro wraps up the season at 21-5 — the best finish since its 2007 championship team finished 23-3 — for its first plaque in four years.
Also wrapping up their careers were Becky Faber and Emma and Elise Heyen.
Even with the loss of the senior quartet, Hiebert doesn’t expect the Trojans to miss a beat next season with Loewen, Lackey, Steph Sanders, Callie Serene, Krista Reimer, Maci Schlehuber, and Courtney Weber returning.
“I’m excited we’re bringing back most of our scoring and our rebounding,” Hiebert said. “We’ve talked the past few seasons about being a family and everyone was a part of this and took responsibility.
“Everyone was important to the success of this team. This is my fourth year with this team and before me, I was the fourth coach in four years so it finally seems the girls are buying into the system, caring about each other. Hopefully we can keep this rolling and we’ll get better and better.”
The Trojans advanced to the semifinals, outlasting third-seed Osage City March 9, 40-32.
Awaiting Hillsboro in Friday’s semifinals was former rival Wichita Collegiate, and one of the state’s premier players, Ashia Woods.
The Trojans played the seventh-seeded Lady Spartans to an 8-8 tie after the first quarter before Woods took over the game in the second quarter.
The Spartans’ defense gave Hillsboro nightmares in taking care of the ball, forcing 24 turnovers for an easy 20-9 edge in points off mistakes.
Reimer’s basket with 5:34 left in the first half gave the Trojans a 13-11 lead before the Spartans outscored Hillsboro, 20-4, which proved to be too much to overcome.
The Trojans were never able to pull to within single digits, suffering through bitter 32 percent shooting on the night.
Woods stung the Trojans for a game-high 19 points along with 10 rebounds and 5 blocks and 11 points coming in the first half.
The Spartans went on to knock off top-seeded Winchester Jefferson County North in Saturday’s finale, 43-41.
Last modified March 16, 2011