The Hillsboro girls basketball team posted an overall record of 20–7 this season and won a WIAA Division 5 regional championship after going 9–5 in the Scenic Bluffs Conference to finish in third place.
The Tigers advanced to the D5 sectional finals by upsetting SBC champion Bangor in a sectional semifinal before ending the season a game shy of the state tournament.
Several players played key roles in the Tigers team success this season, and five of them were honored when the SBC announced its year-end awards early last week.
Senior Morgan Huntley and sophomore Sydney Johnson were named first-team all-conference for a second straight season.
Seniors Destiny Shore and Mackenzie Sullivan received honorable mention, while classmate April Thornsen earned a spot on the eight-player all-sportsmanship team.
Huntley, a 6–foot-2 center, led the team in rebounds and finished second in scoring. She averaged 12.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, while shooting a team-high 56.5 percent (139-for-246) from the field. Huntley started all 27 games. She was a three-year varsity player.
Johnson finished the year as Hillsboro’s leader in scoring, steals and blocks, while finishing second in rebounding and assists. In 27 games, she averaged 13.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.5 steals, 2.0 assists and 1.0 block per game. She shot 46.4 percent (137-for-195) from the field, 64.6 percent (73-for-113) from the free throw line and 33.3 percent (18-for-54) from behind the arc.
Shore averaged 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game. She played in 25 games. She led the team in 3-pointer percentage (37.9) and 3-pointers made with 22. Shore was a first-team All-SBC selection as a junior and an honorable mention choice as a sophomore.
Sullivan finished the year averaging 6.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game to earn honorable mention All-SBC accolades for a second striaght year.
Thornsen played in 26 games, averaging 2.7 points and 2.7 rebounds for the Tigers.
“We had a solid regular season, but going into the year, it was not our goal just to be in conference race,” said Hillsboro head coach Scott Egan. “With six seniors, we had our eyes on winning a conference title. We ended up a little short from that aspect. However, I think that motivated us a lot in the playoffs, because we did have such a special team, and it was of been a little upsetting to finish with nothing to show.
“The most important thing for any team is to be playing their best basketball at the end of the year, and that is something we constantly preached in practice. There is no doubt that is exactly what we did. We came together as a team during that run, and it was something special to see these girls have each other’s backs throughout the playoffs. If one girl was having an off night, someone stepped up and filled the role. It was just awesome to see as a coach. This team really put Hillsboro girls basketball back on the map.”
The Tigers will graduate six of their top eight scorers in Huntley, Shore, Sullivan, Thornsen, as well as Brittany Borchardt and Alexis Mathis.
“The senior group has been crucial to the growth of the program, especially since I’ve taken over,” said Egan. “Without them buying into my vision of where I want the program to go, we would not have had the success we’ve had over the last two years. They are an outstanding group of individuals, and they all brought something a little different to the team. The quality that all of them had was being great leaders even though they all did it different ways. Some of them were great motivators, others lead by their actions. They will all be missed, but the mark they left on this program will be huge.”
Egan will rebuild around Johnson and juniors Shelby Levy and Courtney Fanta.
Bangor senior Emma Wittmershaus was named the SBC Player of the Year for a second straight season after leading the Cardinals to a 24–2 record and the outright conference title with a 13–1 league mark. She averaged 12.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.