Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
HILLSBORO — With less than four minutes left in regulation on Wednesday, Hillsboro continued to feed the basketball to Gracie Dean and Eden Edenfield.
And in the final 30 seconds of the game, that decision paid its dividends.
Edenfield gave the Indians a 41-39 lead with 21.1 seconds remaining before Dean hit a pair of foul shots with 9.2 seconds left after causing a turnover on the opposite end.
Those two plays lifted Hillsboro (1-2, 1-2 FAC) to a 44-39 win over Washington in Frontier Athletic Conference action, and they handed coach Chad Fields his first career win.
“It’s been a tough start to the year at 0-2. We keep preaching to our girls that we are a good basketball team,” Fields said. “Tonight, we came out and played extremely hard. I couldn’t be more proud of our girls. We told them it was going to be a battle. Court House is very scrappy and we knew they’d come after us. But proud of our girls and how they handled the pressure.”
All in all, Dean and Edenfield accounted for 75 percent of the team’s offense. The duo combined for 33 points and added 21 rebounds to the mix as well.
Defensively, they led a charge that forced 25 turnovers and held Washington (0-3, 0-2 FAC) to a 15-of-47 shooting mark from the floor.
“Those two are going to be difficult to handle every night. We keep telling both of those girls to keep attacking and keep communicating,” Fields said. “Eden hasn’t played since her freshman year. She’s a junior. She’s learning and she’s only going to get better. We looked at Gracie as the leader of our team. Tonight, she really stepped up for us.”
The Blue Lions jumped out to a 5-0 lead behind buckets from Allie Mongold and Mallory Hicks. By the end of the first quarter, they’d stretched the lead to 10-4.
Hillsboro logged its first field goal of the evening with 6:42 to go in the second, thanks to Edenfield, making it a 10-6 score. But Hicks later gave the Blue Lions a 15-10 edge with two free throws at the 4:09 mark.
That’s when Edenfield and Dean combined for an 8-0 run to put Hillsboro ahead 18-15 with 2:46 left in the first half. But at halftime, Washington had reclaimed the lead at 23-22.
In the third, the lead was traded four times in the final five minutes. Dean and Mya Bell both scored for Hillsboro while Mongold and Emily Semler each scored for Washington, giving the Blue Lions a 33-32 lead heading to the fourth.
With 5:26 remaining, Aaralyne Estep put the Blue Lions ahead at 39-38. But that’s the last lead, and bucket, Washington saw.
Hillsboro forced turnovers defensively while minimizing its own miscues. That allowed Edenfield and Dean to go to work. The duo led the Indians on a game-ending 6-0 run to nail down a win.
“Turnovers have been an issue for us as of late. I feel like we really hunkered down late as a team and capitalized,” Fields said. “I graduated from Clinton-Massie, so Court House has always been a big rival for me. It really feels good to be able to get that first win, and do so against a league school.”
Dean ended the night with 21 points and nine rebounds while Edenfield posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 boards. Rylie Scott also helped out with four points, five rebounds and two assists.
Semler led Washington statistically with 10 points and seven rebounds while Hicks, Mongold and Estep all finished with nine points. Hicks also added a team-high eight rebounds to her totals.
The Blue Lions get back to action on Saturday, hosting Adena in a non-league matchup, while Hillsboro hosts Goshen on Monday.
“We knew they were low on numbers so we really wanted to attack the basket and not settle for outside jump shots,” Fields said. “They did a really good job of defending us early on. I think towards the end of the game, our conditioning and the fact that we were playing a few more players helped us out.”
Washington: 10-13-10-6 — 39
Hillsboro: 4-18-10-12 — 44
Washington: 15-47 FG, 7-13 FT, 2-7 3pt., 28 rebounds (Hicks 8), 25 turnovers, 6 assists (Semler 2, Estep 2). Scoring: Semler 10, Hicks 9, Estep 9, Mongold 9, Shaw 2.
Hillsboro: 15-49 FG, 13-18 FT, 1-7 3pt., 33 rebounds (Edenfield 12), 20 turnovers, 9 assists (Dean 3). Scoring: Dean 21, Edenfield 12, Scott 4, Barney 4, Bell 3.