On Friday, the Hillsboro girls’ basketball team did what good teams do — take advantage of a lesser opponent.
The Trojans jumped out to an 11-2 lead with 4 minutes, 13 seconds remaining in the first quarter. They stretched that lead to 43-7 by halftime on the strength of 58.1 percent shooting. They won the game, 63-38. Hillsboro nearly scored as many points in the paint, 32, as Lyons scored in the game.
The Trojans won every aspect of the game, taking rebounds, 23-22; the turnover margin, 16-15; assists, 12-7; and 3-point shooting percentage, 6-for-8.
In the Trojans’ previous game against Lyons on Dec. 14 in Lyons, Lyons’ point guard Brenna McClure had 13 points. With the persistent on-ball defense of Danae Bina and help defense in the lane on McClure drives, McClure scored five points on Friday on two-for-13 shooting.
“It’s amazing how much they rely on her penetration,” head coach Nathan Hiebert said.
Lyons’ 6-foot-3 center Alexis Lasater scored six points, closer to the eight she had against Hillsboro on Dec. 14. However, Hillsboro forwards, most often Erin Winter and Christina Morris, denied her the ball in the post. Any catch Lasater had on the block was quickly met by backside help.
Lyons’ forward Lauren Baker had 12 points, but she scored most of her points in the second half, with Lyons down by 30. Hiebert described Baker’s offense as launch-and-pray as she let go a variety of 3-point attempts.
Basically, Hillsboro played a perfect game. Hiebert had no complaints after the game. He was especially pleased with the way the Trojans moved the ball, leading to wide open shots whether facing zone or man-to-man defense.
“It makes it a lot more fun when it doesn’t matter who you pass it to, you know they are going to hit it,” Hiebert said.
The Trojans are now 15-1 on the season. They started the 2012-13 campaign ranked as the No. 1 team in the state in 3A, and although they were ranked third in the most recent Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll, it is only a matter of time before the ascend to the top spot.
Following a dynamic game and just over the midway point of the season, it’s a good idea reassess what type of team Hillsboro has this season.
Hiebert said he is very comfortable with three different players taking the last shot in any close game. Addie Lackey, Tena Loewen, and Danae Bina are the top three scorers for Hillsboro and the best three defenders. While equally talented, each player provides a different dynamic for Hillsboro.
“They all have unque gifts and skills,” Hiebert said.
On Friday, Lackey had the type of game of which only she is capable. Her offensive production was only less extraordinary because she has those types of games all the time and makes it look easy.
She scored 22 points and hit shots from all over the court. While she had several layups after steals, she hit a variety of midrange jump shots curling off of screens. She was 3-for-3 on 3-pointers, often the benefactor of a well-timed pass from Bina or Maci Schlehuber. For the game, she shot nine-for-13 from the field.
“We’d definitely be a different team without her,” Morris said of Lackey.
At different points in the game, Lyons started to tire of seeing Lackey knock down shot after shot. Whenever an opening presented itself, Lackey would thread the ball between defenders for assists to Loewen or Morris or another Trojan cutting to the basket. Lackey had five assists in the game to lead the team.
“She’s a very unselfish player; she likes to see everybody else on the board,” Morris said. “A lot of those shots she could take.”
She also had four steals. Lackey has become adept at goading opponents to throw to her man, letting them think their teammate is open. This is when Lackey closes on the ball and starts a fastbreak. She would be the best defender on many teams — she happens to play with two of the best defensive players in 3A.
While Lackey is more like a scalpel, cutting through defenses with percision, Bina is more like a Swiss Army knife. Bina had 10 points on Friday but also recorded six rebounds that tied for the team lead, two assists, and two steals. Like Lackey, Bina can score any where on the court, possessing the ability to finish at the rim but also a confident shooting stroke at the 3-point arc.
Bina is Hillsboro’s top perimeter defender, often shadowing an opposing point guard all the way up the floor. She is the best rebounding guard in 3A, possessing a unique acumen of finding open seams to clean up offensive boards.
Hiebert said Lackey, Bina, and Loewen are special players. He said he tries to intensify their talent by pairing any one of them on opposite sides in practices.
“You’ve played against talented players all year long,” Hiebert said.
Morris and Winter are two sides of the same coin for Hillsboro. Morris said they both have the role of rebounding — especially on the defensive end boxing out opposing forwards — playing strong interior defense, and hitting the occasional open shot.
They go about that role in different ways. Winter is steady, hardly ever out of position. Morris is more of a gambler and a spark plug on defense. Often both styles are needed in a game and they play about equally.