Lady Trojans surprise Hesston in overtime win
Hillsboro wins fourth-straight, upending unbeaten Lady Swathers, 41-33
Despite the season still being relatively early, Dec. 10 may be a dark cloud hovering over the Lady Trojan basketball teams’ heads.
On that day — Hillsboro’s third game of the season — victory was within the Trojans’ grasp against the Hesston Lady Swathers in the second round of the Moundridge tournament.
But it wasn’t to be with Hillsboro unable to keep a solid first half going, falling to the Swathers.
Friday night in Hesston, the Trojans had a chance at redemption against the unbeaten Swathers.
This time, Hillsboro was actually able to finish off the Swathers, spoiling their unbeaten season with a 41-33 win in overtime.
The victory marks the Trojans’ fourth consecutive win, boosting their record to 4-3 on the year and 1-0 in MCAA action.
Something had to give on Friday, whether it was the Swathers’ high-powered offense, which averages 50 points a game, or Hillsboro’s stingy defense, which yields just 34 a game.
It was Hillsboro’s that won the battle, holding Hesston 17 points below its average, second only in the league to Class 3A’s best team, Wichita Collegiate.
“We played a good game on Friday,” Trojan coach Nathan Hiebert said. “We started off really well against them and we were aggressive both offensively and defensively.
“We got some good looks at the basket and forced them into tough shots.”
In a game featuring two of the MCAA’s top six scorers — Trojan Dakota Kaufman and Swather Mallory Schroeder — Hesston’s star was sidelined with an ankle sprain.
Kaufman bettered the league’s second best scoring average of 17.6 points per game, finishing with a game-high 20 points — 16 coming in the second half.
Friday’s game seemed to be a replay of the first meeting with Hillsboro jumping out to an 8-5 lead after the first quarter and 14-12 at halftime.
Just like the first game, the Trojans couldn’t extend the lead the second half, and Hesston’s switching to a 1-3-1 defense muddled Hillsboro’s game.
The Trojans got impatient on offense, rushing shots and turning over the ball.
The Swathers couldn’t pull away either, with the game in a 21-21 knot heading into the final quarter of regulation.
Just when it looked like history might again repeat itself with the game slipping away for Hillsboro, Kaufman saved the day.
With only four points in the first half, Hesston had to figure it’d only be a matter of time before Kaufman would get on track.
Just under the five minute mark in the fourth quarter, the Trojans were a miserable 2-for-7 at the free-throw line.
But it was the line that buried Hesston’s chances at staying unbeaten and ending the game in regulation.
Hillsboro hit 10 straight free throws and finished on a 12-of-17 note, while putting the game away in overtime with a 10-2 run.
“We were down in the fourth quarter before we were able to finally start finding a little bit of rhythm,” Hiebert said. “We got a couple of turnovers that resulted in some layups, which really helped our intensity on defense and our confidence on offense.
“We ended up hitting the last 10 free throws through the fourth quarter and overtime and those were huge. I’m proud of the girls. Yes, Hesston was missing Schroeder but I thought they still played very well.
“For us, it was a good mental battle to get a win in overtime against them. It showed our girls how important it is to not quit and finish.”
Up next for Hillsboro is a 6 p.m. game Friday in Halstead against the dangerous Lady Dragons.
Last modified Jan. 13, 2010