The Hillsboro High School girls’ basketball team defeated Pratt Friday at Pratt, 48-37.
It was a statement victory for the Trojans. The Greenbacks will be one of the toughest teams Hillsboro will face this season. They were formerly ranked in 4A.
“That was one of our goals, to come here and get a win,” head coach Nathan Hiebert said.
The Trojans led 39-20 after three quarters. It took a 13-point scoring onslaught by Pratt’s 6-foot-2 forward Aubrey Hoover to tighten the gap in the final period. She scored from all over the court, using her unique combination of length and athleticism near the hoop and to shoot over Hillsboro’s perimeter defense. Except for a steal and lay-up by Dominique Staats, Hoover scored every point in a comeback that brought the Greenbacks within 7 points, 44-37.
After a Hillsboro timeout, Serene hit a lay-up off a bounce pass from the free-throw line by Tena Loewen. A tie-up then went Hillsboro’s way and Courtney Weber hit a wide-open lay-up off the ensuing inbounds play. Addie Lackey iced the game with defensive and offensive rebounds on back-to-back possessions. She also stole the ball in one of Pratt’s final possessions.
The Trojans dominated a Pratt team, which often featured the two tallest players on the court with Hoover and Whitney Tilley, on the boards. Playing the vast majority of defensive possessions in man-to-man, Hillsboro outrebounded the Greenbacks, 30-19, notching 13 offensive rebounds along the way.
Hiebert said the Trojans have worked specifically on rebounding in the past two practices. He was especially impressed with the rebounding of senior forward Courtney Weber. Weber recorded six boards. On one play in the fourth, Weber allowed a teammate to secure a rebound by thoroughly boxing out Hoover on the opposite end of an airball. The much taller Hoover could only flail her arms in frustration as the ball bounced to the court between the pair of opponents deadlocked on the low block.
“She was getting her butt into someone,” Hiebert said.
Lackey was the Trojans leading rebounder in the contest with nine. In one sequence during the third quarter, Lackey pulled down a defensive rebound and then pushed the ball up the court to start a fast break. After a missed basket she grabbed a long offensive board near the left elbow on the court. She then took one dribble and dropped a one-bounce pass to a cutting Stephanie Sanders for an easy deuce.
The play was emblematic of a great all-around game for Lackey; she ended the game with 9 points, five assists, and three steals. She was the assists leader for Hillsboro, her deft passes often resulting in easy baskets.
“Addie is really unselfish,” Hiebert said. “Both (Tena and her) draw a lot of attention.”
Down 12-5 early, Lackey also provided her team with a necessary spark to get the Trojans going in the first quarter. She drained a three from the left corner and converted a steal into a successful pull-up jumper to help tie the score at 12.
Serene was the leading scorer for Hillsboro with 15 points. Her night mirrored her team’s performance. She started slow missing her first two 3-point attempts, but she canned her next two tries. She hit three of Hillsboro’s five 3-pointers on the night. The Trojans shot 48 percent from the field and 45 percent from beyond the arc.
Loewen was the next highest scorer with 13 points. She also grabbed seven rebounds.
The Trojans defense was key to the victory. Other than Hoover, with 23, no other Pratt player scored more than five points. After the first quarter, Hillsboro defenders shut down any driving lanes. The Trojans also created 20 turnovers and recorded 15 steals.
With one goal accomplished, Hiebert hopes the team can achieve its next goal, earning the top seed in the Trojan Classic. That might mean staying undefeated until Jan. 16 because the top-ranked team in 3A, Riley County, is also undefeated and slated to participate in the tournament. The Trojans are now 8-0 on the season.
“We’ll play one more game than them,” Hiebert said. “I would much rather play them in the final than in the second round.”
Lady Trojans defeated Lyons 60-32 on Tuesday in Hillsboro. Tena Loewen was high scorer with 16 points. Addie Lackey second with 12 points.