In a season full of ups and downs, it was only appropriate that the Hillsboro girls basketball team’s final game was a bit of a roller coaster. Fortunately for the Toppers, when the ride stopped they were out in front as they claimed a 56-35 victory over Tri-City on Thursday, March 11.
Things went well in the early going for the Toppers as they jumped out to a 12-1 lead thanks to baskets from Layne Rupert, Claire Tester and Nikya Harston, who would account for 49 of Hillsboro’s 56 points in the game.
Tri-City would get back-to-back baskets from Kamryn Sturdy in the final two minutes, but a three from Haley Major gave Hillsboro a 15-5 lead after eight minutes.
The next two quarters would go in Tri-City’s favor, but they weren’t able to take much off the Hillsboro lead. With an eight-point quarter from Sarah Finley, the Tornadoes outscore the Toppers 10-8 in the second quarter to cut the lead to eight, followed by a 12-11 run in the third to make it 34-27 going into the fourth.
Tri-City was within five in the final 70 seconds of the third, but Harston made a shot in the final seconds to increase the Hillsboro lead back to seven.
Whether it was Harston’s shot providing some momentum or the realization that a big quarter would help them go out on a win, Hillsboro jumped all over Tri-City in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter.
A free throw and a basket by Claire Tester made it 37-27, followed by a bucket by Harston and a steal and score from Major, which made it a 14-point game in the blink of an eye.
Tri-City would try to get back into the contest with a three from Sturdy and baskets by Sarah Finley, but Layne Rupert began to find her range from three and put Hillsboro ahead for good.
Once the smoke cleared, Hillsboro had a 21-point victory and three players threatening double-doubles.
One of those three, Tester, accomplished the task. In her final game, the Topper forward scored 17 points and pulled down a season-best 12 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.
Harston nearly joined her fellow senoir, scoring 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field, with nine rebounds. Rupert matched Harston with 16 points and added in eight boards, a season best.
Haley Major added in five points and a pair of steals, while Kenadie Carlock contributed the other two points.
Seniors Vanessa Compton (three assists), Brianna Guinn and Kelsey Holtgrave, along with Tester, Harston and Major, received a standing ovation from the Topper faithful in the final moments of the game in honor of their final contest in orange and black.
The six went from contributors to Hillsboro’s state team in 2019 to the foundation of two very good clubs the last two years, winning 76 of their 112 games in four years. Their contributions to the Topper program are appreciated by those who follow the team and won’t soon be forgotten.
March 11 at Hillsboro
Tri-City 5 10 12 8 35
Hillsboro 15 8 11 22 56
Tri-City (35) - Sarah Finley 17, Kamryn Sturdy 9, Jordan Closs 7, Grace Blair 2. Totals: 16 2-7 35.
Hillsboro (56) - Claire Tester 17, Nikya Harston 16, Layne Rupert 16, Haley Major 5, Kenadie Carlock 2. Totals: 23 5-9 56.
Three-point field goals: Tri-City 1 (Sturdy 1); Hillsboro 5 (Rupert 4, Major 1).
Record: Hillsboro (12-4); Tri-City (9-6).