Can't count out Hillsboro girls just yet

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 10:46pm

If there was a turning point in the Hillsboro girls’ basketball season, it might well have occurred Tuesday night. And, more specifically, it may have happened in the third quarter as the defending state champ Burros rallied from 10 points behind to pull a 49-38 win over Brentwood High out of the fire.

Going into the final month of the season, Hillsboro is 5-10, but rests alone in first place in the District 11-AAA standings with a 2-0 record. Brentwood fell to 7-7 and 1-1.

Chief architects of the Burros' rally committee were the Mutt & Jeff tandem of 6-3 post Isabelle Harrison and diminutive 5-6 point guard Kearra Holt. Both scored 17 points to lead Hillsboro, with Holt scoring all 17 in the second half.

“I think our press and our defense was what won it for us,’’ said Holt, a sophomore, who hit 6-of-8 free throws in the final 2:01 to seal it. “I was scared at first, but I was determined not to get down on myself.’’

Trailing 25-18 at the half and 29-20 early in the third, Hillsboro threw up a fierce full-court press which wore down the Bruins.

Brentwood went five straight trips turning the ball before even reaching half court, which led to a 13-0 Burro run. That gave Hillsboro the lead for good, coming when Holt hit two free throws for a 31-29 lead late in the third quarter.

“I knew I had to step up and make free throws, that’s so important at the end of a game,’’ Holt said.

Harrison added 11 rebounds to her 17 points and became more of a force in the second half with her inside game.

“I knew I had to step it up in the second half,’’ Harrison said. “My teammates found me, and I was able to score a few points. It’s a great accomplishment beating Brentwood, because they always have a good team, and we’ve become pretty big rivals.’’

Power forward Gabby Garrett added six points and eight rebounds for Hillsboro.

Post player Kyla Kerstetter was almost the entire show for Brentwood, pouring in 22 points with 10 rebounds, but no other Bruin player scored more than six points.

After winning state last year, Hillsboro was hit hard with a pre-season ACL injury to last year’s leading scorer LaKeisha Crouch, knocking her out for possibly the season. Following that was a slow start, including an 0-3 showing in the tournament of Champions in Phoenix in December, but that was a blessing in disguise.

“We played the No. 1 ranked team in the nation in that tournament, and we played well against them and it showed us what we needed to do to get better as a team,’’ said Coach Katrina Carter. “It was a great experience for us, playing those good teams and we came home a much better team.

Summing up the game, Carter said, “the press definitely turned it around for us. At the half, we made a decision to increase the intensity of our press and be more aggressive.

“I think this is definitely a turning point in our season,’’ added Carter, whose team takes on district foe Centennial Friday.