HEBRON – Alden-Hebron girls basketball coach Jen Nichols saw her team’s opening round regional game ending differently.
The Giants had split two games with Rockford Christian Life, the most recent being a 63-61 overtime win in the semifinals for A-H in the Northeastern Athletic Conference Tournament.
A-H struggled early against the Royals, falling 55-32 in the Class 1A Alden-Hebron Regional semifinals.
“I’ve seen our girls play them at their best, and I’ve seen them at their worst [against Christian Life],” A-H coach Jen Nichols said. “Our fear was that they would come out and play at our worst and they definitely started that way.”
The Royals full-court press forced the Giants (16-9) to turnovers and bad shots in the first quarter, holding A-H scoreless through one. The Giants finally got on the board 3:30 into the second quarter on a Brooklyn Hilton shot.
“We expected the press. They put it on us twice,” Nichols said. “The girls just didn’t execute the plan like we hoped we would do. It’s just hard because the girls worked their butts off this week of practice to focus for this game and we just all saw things happening differently.”
Hilton led the Giants with 11 points and Sparkle Lagerhausen added nine.
Christian Life looked to establish the post early, looking to Abby Compton, who finished with 12 points. Nine came in the first half. Linzy Keller led the Royals with 16 points and Katie Hart added 11.
Alden-Hebron finally found some offense in the final quarter, scoring 20 points while holding Christian Life to 10.
After completing her first season as Giants head coach, Nichols said she wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Nichols credited seniors Lagerhausen, Marissah Knoll, Jordan Pearson, and Brook Winkelman with making her a better coach.
“I absolutely enjoyed my season,” Nichols said. “I wouldn’t trade it for any other team or any other year.”