There was no way the Hillsboro High School girls’ basketball team could play as well on defense against Moundridge in the sub-state final as they did in the match up against the Wildcats to begin the year in the final of Moundridge Tournament, right? The Trojans only gave up a single point before halftime in that contest.
In the Trojans 29-19 victory Saturday in the sub-state final, not only did they match that defensive performance they exceeded it.
Hillsboro allowed 0 points in the first quarter Saturday to take a 6-0 lead. At that point, senior forwards Courtney Weber and Krista Reimer had recorded steals and senior guard Callie Serene had blocked a shot.
The score at halftime was 16-6. The Trojans’ moment of glory on the defensive end came at the beginning of the third period. The Trojans literally played defense against Moundridge for just over 2 minutes of game time. The Trojan crowd on one side of the court began to clap during the defensive stand as if it were the end of a volleyball match. Not relenting for a second, Addie Lackey punctuated the effort by blocking a shot on a desperation drive by Moundridge.
“It felt good because our defense was stopping them,” Serene said of the 2-minute stand.
Within a dominant team effort on the defensive end of the floor, Serene’s defense against Moundridge scorer MacKenzie Suderman stood out. Head coach Nathan Hiebert knew Suderman was Moundridge’s best shooter and best perimeter scoring option. He gave Serene the defensive assignment knowing that if Suderman could be shut down, the rest of the team could focus on helping inside against Moundridge’s post attack.
“I tried to make her work,” Serene said. “I needed to have a hand up. They were going to run plays for her. I needed to get out in her face.”
Suderman scored 5 points in the game. She scored on one play in the first half off a teammate’s offensive rebound while the Trojans were scrambling to get into defensive position. She also knocked down a 3-pointer when Serene momentarily left the game. Hiebert quickly called on Serene to re-enter the contest.
“Coach told us, ‘Tonight you couldn’t worry about being tired,’” Serene said.
Nothing the Moundridge coaches tried to do could free Suderman. When she brought the ball up the court, Serene would be on her hip from free-throw line to free-throw line. When Suderman tried to back cut, Serene quickly moved her feet to block Suderman from going either direction around her. Serene routinely fought off multiple screens, once as many as three, to contest a shot. Against Serene, Suderman only attempted two 3-pointers, both were rushed attempts with the Hillsboro guard quickly flying in, hand up.
“I was most pleased about the improvement in her game on defense,” Hiebert said of Serene. “Her length gave Suderman problems. She got tired of seeing Callie.”
Against Brooke Holloway, Moundridge’s best post player, Hiebert was pleased with Reimer’s effort fronting the player, picking up two steals in the process, and Weber’s help defense rolling in behind Holloway when she caught the ball, putting both hands in the air, prepared to take a charge.
The Trojans left no stone unturned on the defensive end of the floor. Hillsboro won the rebounding battle, 20-14, with Addie Lackey, 7, and Danae Bina, 5, picking up the most boards. Hillsboro’s defense was also active, accumulating 8 steals and 2 blocks.
On both ends of the floor, the Trojans did what they normally do well, which was a welcome sign for Hiebert that the team was playing its game. Lackey was the playmaker. She led the team in assists with 3 and routinely got into the lane. On one particular drive, she executed three crossovers before knocking down a contested layup.
Reimer rolled to the basket off screens to pick up layups. While Reimer and Lackey each scored 6 points, sophomore guard Danae Bina led all scorers with 8 points. Four of those points came on offensive rebounds; Bina had 3 offensive boards in the game.
“We really worked together well tonight,” Serene said.
Now that the Trojans journey has led them back to the state tournament, Serene said the goal for the team is unchanged from the beginning to the season — win state. The tournament starts for Hillsboro against Caney Valley (18-5) at 4:45 p.m. Thursday in Hutchinson.
The Trojans defeated Southeast of Saline Friday in Moundridge in the second round game of sub-state, 45-33.
It was a hard-fought victory for Hillsboro; the Trojans only led by 3, 20-17 at halftime. If not for 2 timely steals by Amy Bartel and two 3-pointers by Maci Schlehuber, the Trojans would have been down. A 6-0 run to start the third quarter helped Hillsboro increase the lead to 26-17. The Trojans expanded that lead with transition baskets. Bina often led the break for Hillsboro scoring 6 of her 8 points in the second half.
Two keys for Hillsboro were winning the rebounding margin 25-11, with lackey leading the way with 6 boards, and recording 10 steals, again, Lackey had the most with 3.
Serene was the top scorer for Hillsboro with 14 points.