The Lady Wolverines’ win came without one of their leading scorers.
Makensie Block suffered a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in her right knee Tuesday against Lassiter. Block said she hoped to only miss a month and return in time for the end of the season.
After an even first half saw the teams enter halftime tied at 30, both sides got off to a slow start at the beginning of the third quarter, with only five points being scored between them in the first 4 minutes.
Despite being presented with multiple scoring opportunities, Hillgrove (13-4) struggled beneath the basket and from the floor, unable to score more than two points in the period.
Woodstock (11-5), in contrast, began to find its range in the last few minutes, scoring the final six points of the period to go into the fourth leading 39-32.
Hillgrove’s offense finally woke up at the beginning of the fourth, but so did Woodstock’s, and the Lady Wolverines were able to take an 11-point lead less than 2 minutes into the period.
Hillgrove, last year’s Class AAAAA state runner-up, clawed its way back into the contest by using an aggressive defense to force turnovers, and with just under 4 minutes remaining, the Lady Hawks were able to pull within three.
That would be as close as they could come, as Woodstock’s Jessica Alexander rattled off the next six points — four coming from the free-throw line — to put the contest out of reach.
After scoring 30 points in the first half, Hillgrove only managed 16 in the second. Woodstock scored 30 and 27, respectively.
Woodstock coach Julie Crowe was thrilled with how well her team played defensively in the second half.
“I am extremely proud of our second-half defensive performance,” she said. “Our girls responded to some adjustments that we made at the half, and they came out and executed the plan we wanted them to.”
Crowe was also pleased with the performance of players in Block’s absence, such as Alexander and Sarah Aguirre.
Leading the Lady Wolverines in scoring was Clara Young with 16 points, while Alexander followed close behind with 14. McKenzie Fortson and Kennedy Montgomery both finished with nine.
Hillgrove coach Susan Milam felt her team’s inability to produce offensively in the latter stages of the game, as well as the amount of times they sent the Lady Wolverines to the free-throw line, led to the defeat.
“We were definitely flat in the third quarter,” Milam said. “We had a lot of looks to score, but we just couldn’t get it to go in. We also really hurt ourselves by fouling and putting them on the free-throw line. I think that made the difference.”
Mackenzie Engram led Hillgrove with 21 points, while Aleigha Cass finished with 10. Of Engram’s point total, 19 came in the first half.
Hillgrove 57, Woodstock 40: In what proved to be a game of offensive surges for both teams, the Hawks pulled away late.
After a first period that saw Woodstock (6-10) manage to score just a single point, and Hillgrove (15-2) score 10, the homestanding Wolverines went on an eight-point run to draw within one in the second.
Hillgrove responded with a run of its own, scoring 13 unanswered, and it eventually took a 29-20 lead into the half. The third period belonged to the Wolverines, who outscored the Hawks 18-9 to draw within five as the game entered the fourth.
Just as Woodstock had controlled the previous period, Hillgrove seized control of the last 8 minutes of the game, outscoring the Wolverines 19-7 to end the contest with a 17-point victory.
Leading the Hawks on the night was Kyle Castlin with 18 points. Keith Ray finished the game with 14, while B.J. Brown finished with 12.
Matt Scott and Chris Mowery each scored 11 Woodstock, while Thomas Carroll had eight.