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Stingy defense leads Lady Trojans past Nickerson

Hillsboro battles from behind to top Lady Panthers, 32-28

One thing the Lady Trojan basketball games don’t lack this year is excitement.

However, much of the excitement in Friday night’s game against the Nickerson Lady Panthers was avoidable.

The Trojans missed easy shots and committed 10 turnovers, making for late-game fireworks down the stretch.

Luckily, a solid night on the defensive side of the ball was enough to help Hillsboro (9-1) out of a jam and pull off a 32-28 victory.

“We held them to 28 points. They’ve got a talented, big team, and they’re athletic; we knew that going in” Trojans coach Nathan Hiebert said. “I thought our girls did some good things, but some of the stuff we gave up was a lot of stuff we could’ve taken care of.

“The defense, I’m never happy with it,” Hiebert said.

The swarming Trojan defense forced 19 Panther turnovers while holding Nickerson to a tart 21 percent shooting in the second half — 26 for the game.

With Hillsboro hitting less than 20 percent from the field in the second half, the Trojan defense kept the Panthers within an arm’s length.

The shooting started badly and didn’t get much better with the Trojans missing five out of their first six shots.

Had it not been for the Trojans’ defense, the game could’ve easily gone in the Panthers’ favor with Hillsboro shooting 23 percent from the floor.

Tough shooting and mistakes prevented Hillsboro from building a stable lead and the score was tied at 7-7 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Maci Schlehuber beat the buzzer to send Hillsboro in at the half up 14-11, with Nickerson shooting 33 percent from the field.

Brandy Mader scored a game-high 12 points for the Panthers, scoring half of them in the third quarter to help Nickerson build a 24-19 lead during a near 3-minute lapse for Hillsboro.

Mader helped neutralize the Trojans’ leading scorer, Tena Loewen, to just 1-of-7 shooting and 3 points.

But freshman Addie Lackey made one of two free throws to bring the margin to 24-22 heading into the fourth quarter.

Nickerson continued to pack the inside with defenders helping construct a 27-22 edge midway through the quarter with the Trojans missing 10 consecutive shots.

Lackey’s 3-point play with 3:56 to go put an end to the drought, pulling the Trojans to within 2, 27-25.

Lackey’s basket and Allie Faul’s 3 were the only field goals the Trojans could get to go down in the fourth quarter, as they hit a woeful 2-for-15.

Faul’s cold-blooded triple with just under a minute to go put Hillsboro in front and Callie Serene and Faul combined to hit 3-of-4 at the free-throw line in the waning 20 seconds to put away the game.

“We’ve been struggling at shooting a little bit and we’ve been talking about not just getting good shots, but great shots,” Hiebert said. “Teams are starting to realize they can suck in on us because we’re struggling to score at the basket.

“Our posts haven’t had high-scoring games. I’m not against shooting, but we’ve got to work on getting better shots and executing better. We had too many turnovers.”

Surprisingly, the Panthers 19 mistakes were nine more than Hillsboro, who scored 13 points off Nickerson turnovers.

Mader’s double double with 11 rebounds helped the Panthers win the rebounding margin, 41-35. Nickerson made 11 points off put-backs.

The Trojans will be in action this week, hosting the weeklong Trojan Classic, which began Tuesday against Winfield.

Last modified Jan. 20, 2011

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