Hillsdale’s motto this season is “Time to shine,” but head coach Nick Langston knows as well as anybody that Tuesday’s season-opener better have been a dress rehearsal and not a final product if this team wants to glimmer like stars.
The Hornets (1-0) bottled up Quincy’s offensive attack and proved to be bigger and deeper than the Orioles, but careless turnovers and an inability to get the shots Langston wanted kept Hillsdale from showing what a lot of people believe are their true colors.
Nonetheless, the end result was a 38-13 home win, where Hillsdale limited Quincy (0-1) to just three field goals and balanced scoring was on display for the Hornets.
Langston had mixed feelings, giving his team a grade just above failing.
“I’d give it a ‘D’. It wasn’t very good, especially in the first half. We’re not going to win games playing like that,” he said. “(But), our defense was awesome, we held them to 13 points by giving them some different looks and putting some pressure on in the second half.”
After jumping out to an 11-3 lead after the first quarter the Hornets led just 15-10 at the break, before a 17-3 advantage in the third gave them some much-needed breathing room.
Stefani Skiendziel and Jenny Anderson both made 3-pointers and led the way with seven points, while freshman Hayley Maystead had six points in her first career start, the same tally put up by Lauren Chase.
Still, the Hornets scored in single digits in two quarters, far from championship material in their coaches’ eyes.
“We just don’t have confidence right now and Jackie (Anderson) is playing lost right now and that hurts,” Langston said, referring to his senior post player who was held to three points, but tallied eight rebounds. “We didn’t stick to our game plan. Tiki (Malone) started throwing the ball over the defense when what we needed was short, crisp passes and we need to move, and we stood around way too much.”
The Hornets will get a boost when last year’s leading scorer Julie Shaffer returns. She has been recovering from a torn ACL suffered during soccer season, and Langston said she has been cleared for next Friday’s game against Albion.
While Hillsdale’s offense has plenty of room for improvement, their defense had Quincy reeling.
The Hornets suffocated the Orioles when they tried to run set plays and their footwork and great length provided an interior defensive regime that was difficult to deal with. And when the Orioles tried to find openings on the perimeter there were Hornets feasting on late passes and poor reads.
Hillsdale had 16 steals, including five apiece from Skiendziel and Malone, and they added a myriad of blocks from the likes of Skiendziel, Malone and Anna Rumler.
“Our defense is going to win us games, there’s no doubt about it,” Langston said. “I didn’t expect us to hold them to 13 points. They missed a lot of shots. The (Kourtney) McVicker girl can score when she gets open shots, but it was Tiki’s job to not leave her open, and I think she did a good job.”
McVicker had the Orioles’ lone field goals and a team-high seven points, while Rachel Keeton added four.
Quincy head coach Larry Moore was disappointed in his team’s execution, but expected this kind of performance would be an exception, not the rule, as the season progressed.
“Well, it was more us, it was a lot of us. My girls didn’t execute, didn’t set picks — yes, Hillsdale played good defense — but we didn’t run the offense and were too worried about shooting the outside jump-shot,” he said. “We’re a much better team than we showed tonight.”