Independence’s Lady Eagles ran into a juggernaut Saturday, losing to Hillsboro 48-33 in District 11-AAA’s championship game.
With talent throughout the roster, Lady Burro Nicole Bowers stood out with a 24-point night – including scoring 12 of her team’s 15 first-quarter points.
“That’s on me as a coach,” Indy’s Lee Nachand said after the contest. “We have not figured out a way, as a coaching staff, to slow her down. We know we can’t stop her, but we haven’t been able to slow her down. That’s on me as a coach.”
Nachand, voted 11-AAA’s Coach of the Year after leading Indy to a share of the regular season title, knew the Lady Burros commonly open games shooting well.
“Hillsboro is a great first quarter team,” he said. “Probably the best first quarter team in the district and maybe even the region. They know what they want to do and it’s hard to catch back up.”
The Lady Burros raced to a 9-1 advantage through the first four minutes before Hannah Winters made Indy’s first field goal.
Hillsboro’s defense held Independence to three field goals in the first half on their way to a 16-point advantage at intermission. They would extend that lead to 19 points with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter before Indy went on a mini-run.
The Lady Eagles cut the deficit to 41-29 midway through the fourth following a J.T. Twaddle basket before Hillsboro sealed the win from the foul line.
Katie Pierce and Hannah Winters shared a team-high with seven points while Twaddle and Gretchen Peterson were both close behind with six.
Araya Fleming chipped in with 12 points for Hillsboro while Tariana Carter had 10 points – six coming in the fourth quarter.
Independence reached their first 11-AAA championship game thanks to a 41-35 win over Franklin Friday in the semifinals.
The Lady Eagles led 17-10 after the first quarter and extended the advantage to 34-23 by the end of the third. Franklin found success on defense in the final period thanks to a ¾ court press that gave Independence fits but could not find enough on the offense end to capitalize.
Winters led Indy with 16 points while Tayla Harmon added 10.
Franklin’s Anna Patton had a team-high 14 points while Hannah Harris and Rachel Hawn both chipped in with eight.
Independence advances to the Region 6-AAA tournament as a No. 2 seed while Franklin will be a No. 4.