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Lady Indians control 2nd half; gain 2nd win of season WATCH THE VIDEO

Lead Summary
LEESBURG — For the second time this season, the Hillsboro Lady Indians left the court with the winning score. On a day where Martin Luther King was celebrated, the Lady Indians gave everything they had to fend off the Fairfield Lady Lions for a 39-30 non-league, Highland County rivalry victory.

The win Monday evening was Hillsboro's second win against a Southern Hills League Division II opponent, as they defeated Whiteoak earlier in the season.

This was a landmark win for the Lady Indians as they defeated the Lady Lions for the first time since the 2006-07 season when HHS won 52-36, also at Grandle Gymnasium.  

In their past seven meetings (since 2004-05), the Lady Lions have been victorious five times, as they had a three-year winning streak against HHS before Monday.

That all ended once the final eight minutes ticked off the clock.

The half that changed everything for both teams was the second half. Hillsboro took advantage of the Lady Lions' miscues and missed opportunities under the basket to take the lead and seal the win.

"Pressure," FHS head coach Matt Hodson said to describe the biggest difference of the game. "It's been the same thing all year. Seems like any time anyone applies a little bit of pressure on us, we freak out with the ball. It seems like we forget everything we worked on all week as soon as a little bit of pressure comes, and everything goes out the window.

"We just struggle shooting the basketball."

In the final frame, Fairfield regained some momentum (HHS finished the third quarter with a 7-0 run, outscoring FHS 16-6 in the third) but didn't take advantage of the opportunities given to them. Trailing by five points, the Lady Lions missed their first seven shots in the fourth, not including four free throws in the process, which would have allowed them to take the lead as HHS had problems making baskets in the early stages of the same quarter as well.

The Lady Lions (0-9) finally broke the scoring drought by both teams in the frame when Lindsey Bernard converted a free-throw with 5:24 remaining in regulation.

It was Hillsboro who answered with two points from Jenni Willey to put the visiting team up by six points (30-24).

Later in the frame, after free throws from Fairfield's Megan Sword and Hillsboro's Brooke Shafer, Shelby Smithson (FHS) converted the first field goal of the quarter for the Lady Lions with 1:42 left in the quarter, bringing FHS within four points of tying the game.

But it was the Lady Indians who finished the game by outscoring FHS, 7-2.

"We were able to get to the basket and get better shots (than in the first half)," HHS head coach JR Moberly said. "We got the shots we were looking to get .. once we started making those, we had a little more confidence to shoot the ball better.

"The confidence thing is all tied to scoring points and staying in the basketball game. Once we were able to do that, I just thought we played better. Getting to the basket was key."

Willey led all scorers with a game-high 17 points, scoring 11 points in the final two quarters. Fellow senior A.J. Sanders finished with 10 points for the Lady Indians.

Sword led FHS with 12 points, and teammate Lindsey Bernard scored 11. Nine of Bernard's points came from free throws.

"Lindsey played a really good game for us," Hodson said. "This is the best game she's had all year for us. She's starting to pick her game up."

The Lady Indians having the momentum wasn't the story for the entire game; in fact, it was the opposite at the tip-off. Fairfield led the first frame 6-2 after the buzzer sounded.

The first five minutes of the opening quarter belonged to the Lady Lions with Heather Huff, Sword and Bernard all contributing to the 6-0 run at the start of the first. Sword scored half the points in the run with a 3-pointer, leaving 3:31 left in the quarter.

"We settled for perimeter shots. We stood around, we weren't active offensively, and we couldn't get it to the girls who we wanted to have the basketball," Moberly said of the Lady Indians' early struggles. "We would like to have A.J and Jenni to touch the basketball every time down the floor. We just got content throwing it to the wing and shooting it."

At the start of the second, Sword extended the Lady Lions' lead with a free-throw conversion, but HHS came back with points from Willey, with the assist by Taylor Moberly, bringing HHS within three points of tying the score.

HHS tied the game with 3:17 left in the second when Sanders scored off a Fairfield turnover. FHS regained the lead when Bernard sank a bucket, along with Kortney Paris making three free throws on a combined four attempts on two trips to the free-throw line.  

Willey continued to pressure FHS on the offensive side with an offensive rebound and put-back basket, but it was the Lady Lions who added to their lead at the end of the first half with points by Bernard and Sword.

FHS took a 19-14 lead in the early-to-mid stages of the third quarter with a free throw from Bernard, answering a bucket by Carey Juillerat.

HHS then went on a offensive outburst, scoring seven straight with points by Willey and Sanders.  Willey tied the game at 19, and Sanders scored two points off a turnover to put HHS up by two points.

Bernard, again, was clutch from the free-throw line with four straight conversions to give the Lady Lions the lead at 23-21 with just over two minutes left in the quarter.

HHS took the lead and didn't give it up for the remainder of the game by compiling a 7-0 run in the final 1:25 of the frame. The turning point of the game began with a wide-open jumper from Willey and was added onto when Moberly sank a 3-pointer. Willey put HHS up five points (28-23) with a jumper with 1:01 left in the quarter.

"We switched what we were trying to do offensively," Moberly said. "We talked about moving a little bit, and we tried to pick up our energy up on the defensive end, hoping that we could generate something from that side, then it would carry over."

Foul trouble also caused the Lady Lions problems on Monday. FHS had 23 fouls, 13 in the second half.

"We had one player foul out and three others with four fouls, and that comes from not playing very good defense and not moving our feet," Hodson said.

The win gives HHS an overall record of 2-9 overall. FHS stands at 0-9 on the season.

In JV play, FHS defeated HHS, 22-20. Fairfield's Haley Chain made the go-ahead, game-winning basket late in the fourth quarter. Leading FHS in scoring was Heather Cox with seven points. Chain finished with five points, and Sirenity Smith scored four. For HHS, Alexandra Stratton led with 11 points.

HHS will play again Thursday when they host the McClain Lady Tigers in a South Central Ohio League game. FHS is scheduled to host Ripley on Thursday in Southern Hills League action. Both games have a JV start time of 6 p.m.

GAME NOTES: From the free-throw line, HHS was 10-of-23, FHS was 19-of-34 … HHS committed 23 fouls … Starting for FHS were Sword, Tiffany Woods, Paris, Bernard and Huff … Starting for HHS were Maggie Tamborski, Whitney Earley, Juillerat, Willey and Sanders … Sword led with eight points at halftime … Sword had two straight steals in the fourth quarter, but led to zero points … Nine free throws were attempted in the final minute of the game.[[In-content Ad]]

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