Hillsboro's Bryanna Bledsoe drives to the hoop for the Lady Indians in their season-opening game against East Clinton. Bledsoe led HHS with 14 points. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Hillsboro's Bryanna Bledsoe drives to the hoop for the Lady Indians in their season-opening game against East Clinton. Bledsoe led HHS with 14 points. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
HILLSBORO — In a season opener that was the start of a new era of Hillsboro Lady Indians basketball, the young Lady Indians team played for a lead at the end of the first quarter. From that point on, though, the visiting East Clinton Lady Astros took control of the game Friday for a 47-29 victory over the host Lady Indians to begin the 2020-21 season.

Before the game, there was a moment of silence held for former East Clinton head coach Jeff Craycraft, who passed away on Oct. 27, 2020.

During the game, the Lady Indians trailed early on as East Clinton scored the first points of the non-conference contest between the two former league foes. HHS scored their first point of the season as Eden Edenfield sank a free throw with 6:47 left in the quarter.

Following turnovers by both teams, Hillsboro’s Bryanna Bledsoe scored two points in transition with the assist from Edenfield with 5:47 remaining in the opening frame, giving the Lady Indians their first lead of the season.

Bledsoe finished the game with a team-high 14 points, scoring nearly half the points of HHS. She made four shots from the field and was 6-of-9 from the free-throw line.

“She’s a tough player,” HHS first-year head coach Chad Fields said of Bledsoe following the game. “She does a lot of good things for us and she’s one of our leaders, and we expect her to be one of our offensive leaders.”

From there, the Lady Indians lost the lead following points from East Clinton’s Lanie Clark at the 4:22 mark of the first, but HHS rallied back with a layup by Bledsoe and a layup by Gracie Dean off a turnover with 3:19 left in the first frame for a 7-4 advantage for HHS.

The final points of the first came with two made free throws by EC’s Libby Evanshine, as the 7-6 Hillsboro lead stood until the end of the first frame came to a close.

“We just got behind (after the first quarter) but I thought we did some good things, and our girls were playing hard, and they (ECHS) winded us a little bit, but we’ll get better,” Fields said. “It is just a process, and our girls were playing hard.

“We have a bunch of girls playing varsity ball who have never played varsity ball, so like I said, it is a work in progress. They are asking questions, playing hard, and there is a lot of positivity in the locker room after our first tough loss, so that is encouraging.”

In the second frame, the experience of East Clinton showed, as did the inexperience at the varsity level for the Lady Indians.

HHS (0-1) was outscored by East Clinton (1-0) 18-7 in the second quarter, leading to the Lady Indians trailing at halftime, 24-14.

In the second, the Lady Astros scored 14 points to Hillsboro’s three (HHS had a three-point play by Edenfield with 6:40 on the second-quarter clock) from the start of the second to the 3:28 mark of the frame.

HHS scored their fourth point of the second frame with a free throw by Edenfield with 3:15 on the clock. Later a free throw was made by Hillsboro’s Jaden Moberly, and two free throws came off attempts by Bledsoe, for what became the 24-14 halftime deficit for the Lady Indians.

By the time the end of the third frame arrived, HHS trailed 36-17 with their three points in the quarter coming from a free throw by Bledsoe, and later, a put-back bucket by Bledsoe as well.

The game was all but decided once the fourth frame arrived, with HHS winning the frame 12-11. Hillsboro had a jumper by Sinai Roberts in the fourth, while Bledsoe scored two points off a basket with 4:45 left in the final frame.

Hillsboro’s Moberly sank a jumper with 4:27 left in the quarter, and HHS ended the game with three more points from Bledsoe from the free-throw line, a free throw made by Rylie Scott and two free throws from Dean, all in the final four minutes of the game.

Dean finished the game with four points, and Edenfield totaled five points in the loss. Also for HHS, final scoring included three points by Moberly, two points by Roberts and one point from Scott.

As a team, the Lady Indians were 13-of-22 from the free-throw line. East Clinton finished 17-of-24 from the free-throw line.

For East Clinton, Libby Evanshine led with 15 points, followed by Kami Whiteaker with nine points and Katrina Bowman with seven points. Also with seven points was Gracie Evanshine.

Next for the Lady Indians is a home non-conference game on Wednesday, Nov. 25 vs. the Adena Lady Warriors at HHS. JV start time is 5 p.m.