Spartans knock down the game-winner with 30 seconds remaining

In last Friday’s rivalry game against Century, the Hillboro girls basketball team led just HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Hilhi's Tarea Green gets off a shot during Tuesday's dramatic 42-41 victory against city rival Century.

But the Spartans also led at the only time when it really, truly matters: when the clock hits zero.

Michaela Rogers played the hero on this night at Century High School, knocking down a shot in the paint with about 30 seconds remaining to put the visitors up 42-41. After the Jaguars failed to get off a last-second attempt to answer, all Hilhi had left to do was celebrate a most welcome comeback victory.

“It was pretty awesome,” said Tarea Green, who scored a game-high 17 points for Hilhi and added seven rebounds. “We kept up our excitement, intensity, and I feel like that really paid off.”

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Hilhi. Thanks as well to a 59-50 victory at McMinnville on Tuesday, the Spartans now sit at 14-4 overall and 4-4 in league play heading into tonight’s game against Newberg. The Jaguars, who were 60-46 winners over the Tigers on Tuesday, are now 13-5 and 4-4 entering tonight’s game at McMinnville.

For much of last Friday night, the game seemed destined to tip Century’s way. The Jaguars led throughout — and by as many as 10 points early in the fourth quarter — and they still held a 39-31 advantage after Braanna Weber sank two free throws with 2:34 remaining.

No cause for concern, according to Hillsboro senior guard Lauren Lykins.

“We weren’t that worried,” Lykins said about her team being down most of the way. “We’ve had situations where in the preseason we were down by 20 at half and came back and won. Being down is not something that we are necessarily scared of, because we feel like we can come back.”

Still, at that point, Hilhi could have folded. Instead, the Spartans stepped up, going on an 11-2 run to close out the game. After Green and Century’s Chandler Montogomery traded a free throw apiece, Lykins nailed a pull-up jumper and then Cheyanne Seeley canned her third 3-pointer of the night, trimming the margin to just 40-37 with less than 90 seconds to go.

Green kept the run going when she coaxed a bucket to go down while being fouled, and she finished off the three-point play to knot the score at 40-all, the first tie since 2-2 early in the first.

With the outcome still hanging very much in the balance, Weber knocked down a free throw with 44 seconds remaining, putting Century back up 41-40 to set up the final sequence.

Going the other way, on what turned out to be the game-winner from a somewhat unlikely source, Rogers took a pass in the paint and showed no hesitation in putting up a jumper. The sophomore’s aim was true and Hilhi led for the first time all game.

“She had the confidence, and she went right in, and she just — boom — took the shot,” Hilhi coach Sara Harsin said about her sophomore reserve, who had six points. “That’s exactly what we want from her.”

The Jaguars still got their chance at a final say, though, after Lykins missed the front end of a one-and-one with 12.5 seconds remaining. Coming out of a timeout with 7.3 seconds to play, Century moved the ball around trying to find a good look, but Stephanie Cantrall’s long jumper was waived off after the buzzer. The shot missed anyway.

For the Spartans, the win came in one of their more complete team efforts of the season. Their game plan of establishing Green in the post worked, but one of the differences in this contest compared with previous ones is that some of her teammates also stepped up to hit their own shots.

Perhaps no one stepped up more than Seeley, who knocked down three 3-pointers in the game, including two at critical fourth-quarter junctures. The sophomore guard finished with 11 points.

“This was a big game, and I felt like I needed to step up and help my team, and I feel like I did that,” Seeley said.

Ever the floor general, Lykins finished with six points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

Weber led Century with 11 points, four rebounds, five assists and four steals. Chantal Castaneda an Montgomery added nine points each, while Courtney Sirois chipped in eight points and a game-high nine rebounds.

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