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Quick start helps Garden Plain oust Lady Trojans

Hillsboro’s state title hopes end on 55-47 loss

Through three out of the last four games, one thing the Lady Trojans haven’t had to contend with has been trying to fight their way back from a double-digit deficit.

The Trojans blew Ellinwood, Sedgwick, and Remington out of the gym on their way to their second consecutive Class 3A state tournament appearance in Hutchinson.

The last time Hillsboro faced an incline of more than 10 points, was Feb. 23 when the Wichita-Collegiate Lady Spartans were riding out of town with the MCAA league title.

In the first round of the state tournament, the Garden Plain Lady Owls bolted out the gate in a flash Thursday, racing to a 12-0 lead in the first 4 minutes of the game.

Despite being able to knot the game with 5:43 to go, the Trojans exerted most of their energy trying to catch up.

The Owls ruined Hillsboro’s hopes of advancing to the second round, holding on for a 55-47 win.

The Trojans season ends at 18-6 while Garden Plain eventually finished third after falling in the semifinals to state champion Hays Thomas More Prep.

“We didn’t execute our game plan early on,” Trojan Coach Nathan Hiebert said. “They (Owls) ran nothing we didn’t run in practice, early on, we left the wrong people, fundamentally defensively, we broke down.

“When we let the other team shoot 67 percent the first half, you’re probably going to be in a hole. With the defense we’d been playing, that first quarter was a killer. You can’t spot a good team like that, that many points and expect to win. We gave ourselves a chance, though.”

With the lightning-fast start by the Owls scoring 34 points in the first half , and Hillsboro shooting 1-for-11 in the first quarter, it was like the Trojans were trying to outrun a car on foot.

The main Owl the Trojans didn’t want to leave open was Camille Hubert who scored a game-high 12 points — 11 in the first half.

Six of the Owls’ 16 first-quarter points came via Hubert, and the Trojans were looking at an 11-point uphill climb after one quarter.

Wrapping up a high school career as one of the greatest Lady Trojan athletes ever, Dakota Kaufman scored a team-high 11 points while fellow senior Candace Weinbrenner closed hers with 10.

Freshman Tena Loewen also had 10 points and pulled down a game-high seven rebounds.

It was a 3-pointer by Allie Faul, who had 7 points, which got the Trojans as close as 18-13 with 5:15 left in the first half.

The Owls then went on to outscore Hillsboro, 16-5, to take a 34-23 lead at halftime.

The Trojans clamped down on defense in the second half, holding the Owls scoreless for the first 5:32, wearing them down, and yielding a cold 25 percent.

Kaufman’s pair of free throws whittled the lead to 34-30 as Hillsboro used a 7-0 run to get back in the game.

But Garden Plain didn’t allow the Trojans any closer, stretching the lead to 39-32 to start the fourth quarter.

Hillsboro’s put together some big fourth quarters throughout the year, and baskets by Frannie Gottsch, Faul, and Weinbrenner had the Trojans back to within 2, 41-39, before a Garden Plain timeout.

Loewen’s free throws tied the game at 41, but Nicole Dooley’s layup on the next possession deflated the Trojans’ balloon.

Garden Plain put the game away at the free-throw line, hitting 8-of-10 in the final 3 minutes.

“I thought we started wearing them down and playing better fundamentally,” Hiebert said. “In the second half their shots weren’t going down as easily and we got a lot of stops.

“We fought back and got it down to 2, but it wasn’t just a small deficit. They got the layup right after we tied it up, that’s just tough.

“It’s one of those things where you climb all that way back and all of a sudden it’s like we’ve got to climb back again.”

As for his seniors and the season, Hiebert had nothing but praise.

“It was a great season,” he said. “I’m very proud of the girls. This was one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve had — all of them are special. We lost to some great teams.”

The Trojans will lose of Kaufman, Weinbrenner, and Sarah Unruh to graduation. However, with Hiebert’s underclassmen developing throughout the year and the return of Loewen and Faul, Hillsboro will remain a formidable contender next season.

Last modified March 18, 2010

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