Rivalries have a way of evening the playing field sometimes, which was the case on Friday, Sept. 26, when the Hillsboro girls visited Litchfield.
Early on, the Lady Panthers contained the red-hot Hiltoppers, keeping it at a four-point game by the end of the first quarter. Eventually though, Hillsboro’s experience overwhelmed the home team as the Toppers pulled away with a 41-25 victory.
After eight minutes, Hillsboro Assistant Coach Evan Malloy, who coached the first half solo with Coach Bret Tuetken away due to senior night at Hillsboro for his son Jace, told his team that defensively, everything was good as they held Litchfield to just three points, but on offense, the shots just weren’t falling.
That wouldn’t be the case in the second quarter, at least not on the offensive end as Hillsboro turned a 7-3 first quarter lead into a 24-7 halftime advantage.
While the Litchfield defense stymied the Toppers for much of the first half, Hillsboro began to make shots inside midway through the second quarter, with Claire Tester and Nikya Harston sparking a 13-0 run to end the first half. Both players would have six points in the quarter, with eight of the 12 points coming in the final four and a half minutes.
The Panthers would try to make up some ground in the second half and outscored Hillsboro 14-9 in the third behind five points from Becky Painter and four from Carly Guinn, but the home team would never get any closer than the 12 point margin that came at the end of the quarter, with Hillsboro up 33-21.
Any hopes of a comeback were put away early in the fourth as Harston hit a free throw and Layne Rupert scored five quick points to make it an 18-point game. Litchfield got the lead within 15, but was forced to settle for the 41-25 loss, their fourth of the season.
Powered by three three-pointers, Rupert led all scorers with 15 points, while getting it done on the defensive end as well with a team-best six steals. Claire Tester and Nikya Harston would add in 10 and nine points respectively, with both players grabbing seven rebounds.
Vanessa Compton finished with three points for Hillsboro, while Sierra Compton and Haley Major had two points each. Major also tied for the team lead in assists with three, matching Rupert.
Becky Painter, who was honored prior to the game with fellow seniors Cara Pence, Sara Yakana and Aly Fenton, led Litchfield with eight points. Annika Rhodes chipped in six for the Panthers, while Pence and Carly Guinn had four each. Lily Braasch wrapped up the scoring for Litchfield.
February 26 at Litchfield
Hillsboro 7 17 9 8 41
Litchfield 3 4 14 4 25
Hillsboro (41) - Layne Rupert 15, Claire Tester 10, Nikya Harston 9, Vanessa Compton 3, Sierra Compton 2, Haley Major 2. Totals: 15-50 7-11 41.
Litchfield (25) - Becky Painter 8, Annika Rhodes 6, Carly Guinn 4, Cara Pence 4, Lily Braasch 3. Totals: 10 3-7 25.
Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 4 (Rupert 3, V. Compton 1); Litchfield 2 (Rhodes 1, Painter 1).
Records: Hillsboro (7-2, 4-0); Litchfield (0-4, 0-4).