Hall of Fame coach Ron Benish was a winner in his return as Hillsboro girls’ basketball head coach when the Lady Tigers opened the season with 27–25 non-conference victory over visiting North Crawford last Tuesday night.
Senior Sami Levy scored a game-high 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Hillsboro in a defensive battle.
Fellow senior Macy Mislivecek added seven points and 12 rebounds for the winners.
Sophomore Destiny Shore chipped in two points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Levy scored six points in the fourth quarter, including a 6-foot bank shot in the paint with 30 seconds to play that gave Hillsboro a 27–23 lead.
The Trojans (0–1) misfired on their next possession, but Hillsboro went 0 for 3 from the free throw line in the closing seconds and couldn’t put the game away.
Natasha Swiggum scored on an offensive rebound with three seconds remaining to account for the final score and Hillsboro ran out the clock.
North Crawford led 18–14 at halftime, but Hillsboro outscored the Trojans 13–7 after halftime.
“Our kids did a nice job of adjusting on defense in the second half,” said Benish. “We weren’t letting them get quality shots or second chances.
“We have a lot of ways we can get better, but it was good to get out of there with the win.”
Benish, who is now in his 31st season overall, spent last year as a volunteer assistant at Hillsboro under Mark Kocyan.
Kocyan, who went 148–59 in nine seasons as the Tigers head coach after replacing Benish, stepped away from the program at the end of last season. Hillsboro went 18–6 overall and finished in a four-way tied for the Scenic Bluffs Conference championship with a 10–4 mark in league play.
Benish, who has a 529–153 career record coaching both boys and girls, began his coaching career in 1968 at Bloomington, where he spent 17 years coaching boys.
He then coached the Beaver Dam boys for three years and the Belmont boys for two seasons as he moved into administration.
In 2000, Benish returned to Hillsboro, where he graduated high school in 1963, and coached the Hillsboro girls until 2004.
After a brief retirement, he spent two years coaching girls at Reedsburg and was the New Lisbon girls’ coach from 2010–12.
“I enjoy the game, I always have,” said Benish. “I enjoy working with the kids. I graduated from Hillsboro in 1963 so it’s nice to be back. I’m looking forward to the season and hoping we can progress as the season goes on.”
Monday night Benish and his Hillsbor girls improved to 2–0 on the young season with a 32–27 victory at Riverdale.
Levy scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Tigers to victory.
Mislivecek and Kelsey Skala were the only other players to score four Hillsboro, netting four points apiece.
The Tigers (2–0) jumped out to an 11–2 lead behind nine quick points from Levy and never trailed.
Riverdale (0–1) got within one at 21–20 in the third quarter, but Hillsboro pushed the lead to seven late in the fourth.
“I am pleased with our rebounding and team defense; the kids really worked hard,” said Benish. “The kids did a nice job getting the ball to Sami against the Riverdale half court trap and Sami responded with a career high 24 points.”
Up next, Hillsboro opens conference play Friday at New Lisbon (0–1), Benish’s most recent former team.