After three years placing third in the state tournament, the Hillsboro girls’ basketball team has made it a goal this year to go further.
“We want it a lot more,” senior Addie Lackey said. “We’re tired of getting third.”
The Trojans won their sixth consecutive substate title Saturday, defeating Moundridge 53-36. The team will play in the 2A state tournament this year instead of 3A like in previous years.
“We’re really excited,” senior Danae Bina said. “I’m not saying it was expected, but we wanted to get to this point so we could get to the next point.”
Bina began the game with a three, followed by a layup by Lackey to lead 5-0 five minutes into the first quarter. Hillsboro held the five-point advantage, leading 12-7 at the end of the quarter. The team would never trail in the game.
Leading 24-21 at the beginning of the third quarter, Lackey hit a three, starting a 9-2 run to give the Trojans a 33-23 lead. Leading 39-27 to start the fourth, Hillsboro continued extending its lead, eventually winning by 17.
“It sounds cheesy, but we always say going to state feels like home,” Lackey said. “We just love being there.”
Head coach Nathan Hiebert said a family atmosphere and an understanding of roles among the team has helped the team get to state.
Even though they have not had main scoring roles like Bina, Lackey, and sophomore Alex Ratzlaff, Hiebert said upperclassmen like Maddi Duerksen, Tara Proffitt, and Courtney Troyer made important contributions to the team throughout the season.
“One of the things we talk about is family, and part of that is understanding that everyone has a value to it,” he said. “Some girls don’t get tons of minutes, but those minutes make a huge difference in the success of the team.”
Entering the state tournament seeded seventh, the girls will play second-seeded Jefferson County North at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Kansas State University’s Bramlage Coliseum.
Semifinals vs. Sterling
No. 1 seed Sterling scored in transition off the opening tip Thursday, but it was the only lead they would have all game. Ratzlaff scored on a baseline drive on Hillsboro’s first possession, and one possession later Hillsboro took the lead for good with a three-pointer by Duerksen.
Hillsboro led 21-14 at the end of the first quarter and 37-25 at halftime on the strength of the team’s three-point shooting. The team had eight three-pointers at halftime — four by Lackey, two by Duerksen, and one each by Ratzlaff and Bina.
The Trojans didn’t make a three in the second half, but they were able to keep the lead at double digits for most of the half. Hillsboro led 50-37 at the end of the third quarter after Lackey made her free throws after being fouled shooting a three.
The Trojans pushed the lead to as much as 17 in the fourth quarter. Hillsboro left the door open for Sterling by missing 11 free throws in the final minutes, but Hillsboro’s defense kept the lead at double digits until it was too late for the Black Bears. A pair of garbage time threes and a late layup by Sterling made the final score 68-59.
Lackey led all scorers with 28 points, followed by Ratzlaff, 18; Bina, 10; Duerksen, 7; Troyer, 2; Darcy Heinrichs, 2; and Allison Weber, 1.