A work in progress

News Photo by James Andersen Mio’s Claudia Wilson (30) drives past Hillman defender Ellie Crawford during the second half of a girls basketball game on Thursday at Hillman High School.

HILLMAN–The Hillman girls basketball team had plenty of opportunities on Thursday.

But when those chances came, the Tigers couldn’t take advantage of them and lost 46-34 to Mio at Hillman High School.

Hillman (0-6) trailed by just five, 31-26, with 1:34 left in the third quarter, but every time the Tigers got close on Thursday, a combination of turnovers and Mio’s ability to respond offensively hurt Hillman’s chances to win. After Hillman hit a shot to cut Mio’s lead to five, the Tigers were held scoreless for a span that lasted more than five minutes.

In that span, Mio (3-3) scored nine points and led 40-26 with 4:56 left.

“Tonight, I thought we played hard, but we had too many turnovers. I did see some progress from things we worked on over break, but it’s still little things (we have to improve on),” Hillman coach John Kuzewski said.

Mio struggled at times to hang on to the ball as well, but the Thunderbolts were able to keep Hillman at bay after drilling six three-pointers and shooting 14-of-17 at the free throw line. By comparison, Hillman made just two triples and was 6-of-19 from the charity stripe.

Claudia Wilson led Mio with 14 points and Lauren Kuffel and Phynix Rickett each added 11.

Despite a slow start, Hillman rallied toward the end of the first quarter and took its only lead of the game with 1:35 left after a triple from Melanie Morrison. Another surge by Mio in the final minute and a half gave the Thunderbolts a 13-8 advantage after eight minutes.

Mio pushed its lead to as many as 11 in the second quarter, but Hillman rallied again in the closing minutes of the half, ending the second quarter on a 5-0 run to make the score 22-15 at halftime.

“We made two runs where we got right back into it and then we kind of made an unforced error,” Kuzewski said. “Those unforced errors and turnovers, in the state we’re in right now, are hurting us. We’re going to continue working on fundamental things because that’s what’s important now.”

Brooke Jones paced Hillman with 10 points, Bailey Schook and Davi Stewart each had six and Morrison added five.

A pair of early three-pointers helped the Thunderbolts pull out to a double-digit lead early in the third quarter, but Hillman rallied with a run of its own. Over a four-minute span, Hillman outscored Mio 9-2 and trimmed a 12-point Mio lead to just five.

Mio led 34-26 after three quarters and Hillman couldn’t pull any closer. In the final 30 seconds of the period, Hillman missed a handful of chances at the basket, missing at least four putback attempts after missing an initial shot.

Mio scored the first basket of the fourth quarter and led by double digits the rest of the way.

Kuzewski said after the game his team will keep working and has to capitalize on its chances better. The Tigers host Fairview next Tuesday.

“We’ve made some progress since the first couple games of the year. We’ve been in games and had opportunities, I think in our last four games. We’re going to continue working as hard as we can,” Kuzewski said. “I’m going to continue doing everything I can to help these girls. It’s time to get a W in the win column.”

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BOX SCORE: Field goals made/Free throws made/Free throws attempted/Total Points

MIO (46): L. Kuffel 3 4-4 11; C. Wilson 3 7-8 14; T. Bombe 2 0-0 4; P. Rickett 3 2-2 11; R. McGregor 1 1-1 3; J. Butler 1 0-2 3.

HILLMAN (34): B. Jones 3 4-8 10; D. Stewart 2 2-5 6; M. Morrison 2 0-1 5; E. Crawford 1 0-0 2; B. Schook 3 0-3 6; A. Samp 2 0-0 5.