There is a world of difference from the way Hillsboro’s girls team started this basketball season from the way it was Wednesday.
Due mainly to a strong early schedule and the season-ending ACL injury to leading scorer LaKeisha Crouch, the Burros found themselves 4-10 in mid-January and didn’t look anything like the defending state champs.
But Hillsboro managed to stay afloat and added the Region 6-AAA championship to its resume, storming from nine points behind to beat Glencliff 53-50 in the finals Wednesday night at McGavock High.
In a real sense, the game mirrored much the way the season has gone for the Burros — slow start, fast finish.
Glencliff led by nine points twice early on and the Colts led 28-20 at the half. But Hillsboro gradually inched back into the game, and Isabelle Harrison’s three-point play with 4:07 left gave the Burros (16-14) the lead for good at 45-43. Hillsboro stayed ahead thanks to two big late hoops by Kearra Holt.
“Lately, we’ve played a lot from behind, although that’s not exactly the way we want it,’’ said Coach Katrina Carter, whose team finally got over the .500 mark with the Monday semifinal win over Brentwood.
“We’re close to the where we need to be,’’ she said. “I think if people look at our record, they will see something very misleading.’’
The 6-3 Harrison led Hillsboro with 15 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Holt added 12, and Nicole Bowers, hero of the semis win over Brentwood Monday, added nine.
“We stepped up our defense and played with a lot of heart and found a way to win,’’ said the 6-0 Bowers who was named tourney MVP. “This (MVP) is an awesome honor for me in my freshman year.’’
Glencliff’s defense sent double team help at Harrison much of the time, and she picked up her fourth foul late in the third period. But she returned to score seven the final period.
Guard Akia Jones scored 17 to lead Glencliff (20-7) and her deep corner three gave the Colts a 43-40 lead. Dependable Brianna Morrow added 13.
“We played really hard,’’ said Coach Columbus Cody. “But we got a sense of panic when Hillsboro came back on us and we made 2-3 bad plays. We have a tough one Saturday at Mt. Juliet, they beat us early in the season.’’
Last year, when the tournaments started, Hillsboro posted the game countdown for a state championship on their bulletin board . They have it posted once again — four games to go.
But it gets very tough. On Saturday, Hillsboro hosts high-scoring Clarksville in the AAA sectionals, while Glencliff must travel to Mt. Juliet. Those winners go to state.
• CPA thumped Macon County 57-48 to win the girls Region 5-AA title at East Lit as the Lions won their first girls region title.
• The DII state tournament opens Thursday at Lipscomb Allen Arena, with the FRA and DCA girls and University School of Nashville boys teams all in action. FRA faces powerful Knox Webb at 11 a.m., with DCA meeting Harding Academy at 2:15 p.m. USN and Mr. Basketball finalist Meiko Lyles take on Webb School at 3:45.
• The DII-AA headliner Friday sends big Nashville rivals MBA and Ensworth against each other at 12:30 p.m. The top ranked (AP) Ensworth girls meet St. Benedict in the Friday opener at 11 a.m. All the winners advance into Saturday’s finals.
• The DI girls sectionals are Saturday, the boys Monday night. Winners advance to the state tournament
• The TSSAA will hold its draw for the DI girls state tournament on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Murfreesboro for that tournament which is at MTSU March 10-13. The DI boys draw will be held March 13 at 10 a.m. in Murfreesboro for that tournament March 17-20.
7 p.m.—Hunters Lane vs. McGavock, boys final.