The undefeated Hillsboro girls’ basketball team faced its stiffest test so far this season Friday night and emerged with a gritty 60–47 overtime victory over Ridge and Valley preseason favorite Ithaca.
The Tigers blew a 12-point fourth quarter lead, thanks in large part to 16 missed free throws in the final eight minutes, but dominated the extra session 16–3 to pull out a 13-point win.
“Cold free throw shooting in the fourth quarter was costly, but I am really proud of the way the girls responded in the overtime,” said Hillsboro head coach Ron Benish.
Senior Kelsey Skala hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Tigers (8–0) jumped out to a slim 7–4 lead.
Ithaca’s Jordan Cockroft buried at triple at the second-quarter buzzer to pull the Bulldogs (4–2) withing a point at the half, 16–15.
Hillsboro held a 25–19 lead at the end of three quarters and expanded its lead to 12 early in the fourth quarter with six quick points.
Ithaca decided to foul and put Hillsboro at the line in hopes that the Tigers would not convert.
It worked as Hillsboro missed 16 free throws in the quarter, and Ithaca got back in the game by hitting five 3-pointers in the quarter, three of which banked in, and converted four 2-point baskets, the last an offensive rebound at the buzzer to send the game in to overtime tied at 44–44.
But the Tigers shook off their epic collapse and regained control early in overtime.
Sophomore Destiny Shore buried an 8-foot jumper, then fellow sophomore Brittany Borchardt got loose for a fast break layup and a four-point Hillsboro lead.
Ithaca was forced to foul once again, but this time the Tigers converted making 12 of 16 attempts from the charity stripe to close out the win. Hillsboro went 27 of 50 at the free throw line for the game.
Skala finished the game with a career-high 24 points, on three 3-pointers, three 2-pointers and 9 of 14 from the free throw line. She also had six rebounds and three assists.
Borchardt also hit a varsity career high of eight points, all in overtime, including a perfect 6 of 6 from the free throw line in the crucial OT period.
Senior Sami Levy added 12 points and six rebounds. Shore chipped in nine points and a team-high four assists.
Senior Macy Mislivecek pulled in a team-high nine rebounds.
“This is a group that never gives up and they are starting to develop into a good defensive unit. They have worked to reduce the number of turnovers that we had earlier in the year and that has helped us tremendously,” added Benish. “It was great to have our highest offensive output of the year against a tall, talented Ithaca team.”
Last Monday Hillsboro dominated Seneca using its typical brand of suffocating defense.
The Tigers held Seneca scoreless until the second quarter and didn’t allow the Indians a single free throw attempt in a 28–19 victory.
Hillsboro jumped out to an 8–0 lead, but Seneca pulled within three with a 9–4 second-quarter run.
The Tigers then outscored the Indians 11–2 in the third quarter to build a 23–11 advantage. Hillsboro never trailed in the game.
“Our players did a real nice job defensively,” said Benish. “Sullivan and Borchardt with help from their teammates on drives held Seneca’s high scorer, Kim Redman to just one basket, a three in the second quarter.”
Seneca’s second leading scorer, Brianna Brockway, was held to just six points.
Mislivecek led Hillsboro with nine points and five rebounds.
Levy added eight points and five boards.
Shore chipped in seven points, a team-high nine rebounds, and two steals.
Hillsboro will return to action tonight against Viroqua. The Tigers will then travel to Cashton on Thursday, and host Brookwood on Tuesday.