A 16-point run by the Cougars of Breese Central helped the visitors come away with a 57-40 victory over Hillsboro in the season opener for both clubs.
Breese entered the game on a 13-game win streak, having won all but one of their games in the COVID-shortened 2021 spring season. The Cougars started three seniors on Monday, with another upper classman also in the mix for a solid veteran core.
With the graduation of Nikya Harston, Claire Tester and Haley Major, Hillsboro was without three of their top four scorers from last year’s 12-4 team. Junior Layne Rupert was the only outlier, finishing second to Harston in scoring with 11.6 points per game, and was joined by four other juniors in the starting five: Sierra Compton, Kenadie Carlock, Alex Frailey and Meagan White.
Rupert’s experience and athleticism helped Hillsboro hang with the balanced attack of the Cougars, who got 13 points from five different players in the first quarter. Rupert hit a pair of threes for six of her 10 points in the quarter, with Frailey adding in two to make it 13-12 in Central’s favor at the break.
After Central knocked down a two to start the second quarter, Frailey cut the lead back down to one with her fourth point of the game.
It would be one step forward and two steps back the rest of the quarter, though, as Central scored the next four points before Frailey made it 19-16 with 4:30 to play in the first half. Those would be the last points Hillsboro scored until there was 45 seconds left on the clock as the Cougars went on a 9-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game.
Rupert finally broke the scoreless streak with her third three of the contest, making it a single digit game at the half, 28-19.
The Cougars would score the first four points after the break, but Hillsboro cut the lead back down to nine on a mid-range jumper by Sierra Compton and a basket underneath by Alex Frailey.
Breese Central continued to push the pace and turned Topper misses into points as they scored 13 straight while the Toppers were stuck on 23 points. By the end of the quarter, the Cougars now led 45-23, with just eight minutes left for Hillsboro to make some headway.
The visitors added three more points to the scoring streak on a triple by Haley Ottenschnieder to start the fourth, but Hillsboro answered with back-to-back buckets by freshman Addison Lowe to snap the skid.
Despite being down 21, Hillsboro would keep at it on both ends of the court, trading baskets with the Cougars and trimming the lead down to 18. The Toppers outscored Central 16-12 in the final quarter, with Sierra Compton contributing just over half of her team’s points with a trio of three-pointers.
Compton and Rupert would both finish in double figures for the game, with Rupert leading all scorers with 15 points and Compton adding 11. Alex Frailey chipped in eight, followed by Addison Lowe with four and Kenadie Carlock with two.
Central countered with three in double figures, led by Riley Jansen with 12. Haley Ottenschnieder and Madelyn Santel, Central’s two leading scorers last season, added in 10 apiece.
After a Wednesday night tilt at home against Nokomis, Hillsboro moves on to play at the Taylorville Thanksgiving Tournament. The Toppers start with Mt. Zion at 5 p.m. on Nov. 19, followed by Rochester and Jacksonville at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20. Hillsboro wraps up the tournament with Civic Memorial on Nov. 26 at 6:30 p.m. and the host Tornadoes at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 27.
Nov. 15 at Hillsboro
Breese Central 13 15 17 12 57
Hillsboro 12 7 4 17 40
Breese Central (57) - Riley Jansen 12, Haley Ottenschnieder 10, Madelyn Santel 10, Kaydence Schroeder 8, Maggie Schrage 6, Reaghan Tebbe 6, Izzy Melton 5. Totals: 26 2-5 57.
Hillsboro (40) - Layne Rupert 15, Sierra Compton 11, Alex Frailey 8, Addison Lowe 4, Kenadie Carlock 2. Totals: 16 2-2 40.
Three-point field goals: Breese Central 3 (Ottenschnieder 2, Melton 1); Hillsboro 6 (Rupert 3, Compton 3).
Records: Breese Central (0-1); Hillsboro (1-0).
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