The Ravens picked up their first win on the road against the Tri-County Trojans on Tuesday, 34-28.
Both teams got off to a slow start and struggled to finish on scoring opportunities throughout the first half. After sixteen minutes of hard-fought play, the Ravens headed into the locker room down 9-10. “We really struggled to put the ball in the hoop in the first half,” Hillcrest head coach Kari Heusinkveld said. “I liked what I saw in spurts from our offense and we got some quality looks that didn’t go down, but that’s to be expected this early in the year. What we addressed at the break was controlling what we can control and letting go of the rest. I wasn’t pleased with our effort and communication defensively, so we really challenged the girls to focus more on that.”
Coming out of the break both teams again struggled to connect on open looks, but Hillcrest dug in defensively and held Tri-County to just one basket over a seven-minute span. Sophomore guard Esther Hughes knocked down a half-court shot at the third quarter buzzer that gave the Ravens their first lead of the night at 19-18 and swung the momentum in their favor.
The Ravens built off Hughes’ three and opened things up in the fourth with a 5-0 run that forced a Trojan timeout. The girls again held the home squad scoreless for a significant stretch, while Hughes and junior guard Yani Gutierrez started rolling offensively. With two minutes to go in regulation Hillcrest had its largest lead of the night at 28-18, but the Trojans continued to fight. The home team knocked down two three-point shots down the stretch to make things interesting, but Hillcrest went 7-7 from the free throw line over the final two minutes to seal the win.
“I was very pleased with how the girls responded tonight,” Heusinkveld said. “We had a rough opener on Friday so it’s good to see us bounce back with a win, especially one on the road. We saw some really nice things tonight from our kids, especially Hughes and Gutierrez. They finally found the bottom of the net as a duo and we will need that from them this season. I thought Sarah Miller came in and gave us great minutes off the bench and Leah Bontrager continues to make big strides. We are far from where we want to be, but this is a good step in the right direction.”
Hughes led all scorers with 18 points and four steals. Gutierrez added 11 points to go with four assists and four steals. Miller chipped in four points and pulled down five rebounds, while junior guard Meredith Blossom rounded out the scoring with one free throw and dished out two assists.
The Ravens (1-1) return to action after the Thanksgiving break on Tuesday, December 3rd at Lone Tree (3-0). Tipoff is set for 6 PM.