By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
Sluggish starts can sometimes work against a basketball team but not for the Hilldale Lady Hornets on Tuesday.
After scoring only four points in the first quarter, the Lady Hornets erupted for 24 points in the second quarter on their way to a 58-28 win over Catoosa at the Hilldale Events Center.
“These girls are a hard-working group,” said Hilldale coach Scott Hensley. “We can always count on effort and that’s what they showed tonight.”
The Lady Hornets, 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Verdigris Valley Conference, trailed the Lady Indians (2-5, 2-3) 5-4 after the first quarter but outscored Catoosa 24-9 in the second eight minutes to take a 28-14 lead at intermission.
“We’re kinda growing up,” Hensley said. “We still have a lot of work to do but we are improving all the time.”
Hilldale was led by freshman Katie Kirkhart, daughter of football coach Chad Kirkhart, who balanced out her scoring with 11 points in the first half and seven in the second for 18 points total. Jessica VanSchuyer and Casady Mills both finished with eight points.
VanSchuyer was proud of the defensive effort her teammates put forth.
“We’re working really hard this year, and its showing in every game,” she said. “Coach told us to go after it and if we did, we would win and we did.”
Once the Hornets got the double-digit advantage, they kept the pedal to the medal and increased the advantage to 37-21 after three quarters. The final quarter, Hilldale outscored Catoosa 21-7, but Hensley was quick to point out the margin could have been more.
“We missed too many layups tonight,” he said. “But I’m proud of the effort. They’re a great bunch of young ladies.”
For the game, Hilldale made 20 of 52 (38.5 percent) but it was Catoosa’s shooting that was the difference as the Lady Indians connected on only 8 of 39 attempts (20.5 percent), 2 of 16 (12.5 percent) in the second half.
Catoosa 44, Hilldale 42
The Hornets’ strong comeback fell short Tuesday.
Only three Hornets managed to score for the Hornets (3-5, 0-4), who trailed by eight points with 4:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. By the time Catoosa called timeout with 2:42 left, Hunter Harrison had knocked down two 3-point shots to cut the deficit to 38-36.
Jordan Proctor led the way with 19 points, 13 of which came from the free-throw line. Harrison finished with 18 points on the strength of a 5 of 10 shooting night, 4 of 5 from 3-point range but it was the one he missed that was the difference as his last attempt bounced off the back of the rim as time expired.
“I’m proud of the way we finished,” said Hilldale coach Jeremy Rogers. “We just started bad. We didn’t come out very focused and I thought we missed a lot of shots we should have made.
“But I thought our defense was pretty good for the most part. It was just a little too late.”
Had Catoosa (3-4, 3-2) been able to convert free throws, the outcome might not have been so close as the Indians finished 10 of 28 from the line while the Hornets were 18 of 24.
“Coach kept telling us to keep working hard and we would cut them down at the end,” Proctor said. “We did our best. Hunter had a great look. It just wasn’t meant to be.”