A winning state of mind; Trojan girls heading for the Little Apple
Three county teams took their best jump shots at winning sub-state tournaments last week, but only one team was left standing.
Trojan fans can rest easy about Hillsboro High School not having a team playing in Class 2A’s state basketball tournament in Manhattan.
It will be the Trojan girls team representing Hillsboro this year after the boys’ run of three-straight appearances came to an end in the first round of the Trojans’ own sub-state last week.
The Trojan girls made their first reservation in nine years for Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday night, topping the Bennington Bulldogs, 46-30.
The last time the Trojans saw the Bulldogs, former coach Nathan Hiebert and his team got bounced out in the finals of a Herington sub-state two years ago in Hillsboro’s best season until this year.
“The girls finished off a scrappy Bennington team to punch their ticket to the state tournament,” coach Micah Ratzlaff said. “I was very pleased with our effort all week but especially Friday and Saturday night.
“We defended at a high level and made enough plays on the offensive end to control the tempo and the game for all four quarters.”
But first, the Trojans had to fight off a late charge in the semi-final by pesky Sacred Heart to pull off a deceivingly close 38-25 victory Friday night.
Hillsboro did its share of providing Bennington with a migraine, limiting the Bulldogs to a tart 26% shooting and forcing 16 turnovers while keeping the Bulldogs on their heels.
Zaylee Werth was a one-person wrecking crew, dropping a game-high 22 points on the Bulldogs, finishing one rebound shy of a double-double.
Werth also erased seven Bennington possessions for a combined 13 steals in the two games and 21-point-per-game average.
The Trojans used a big first half just as they did the night before against the Knights, opening a 27-15 half behind 40% shooting.
Hillsboro’s second half of the title game also was the one the night before, also, with the Trojans not quite able to slam the door, despite leading as many as 20 to start Saturday’s fourth quarter.
Besides posting a 8-4 third quarter, Bennington stuck with the Trojans the rest of the way.
The Trojans dropped to 36% shooting the second half, 39% overall, while hitting 8-for-13 at the free-throw line.
Twelve of Werth’s 22 points came courtesy of the line, where all but two of Hillsboro’s 21 shots came from her.
Savannah Shahan was more on track Saturday night after only finishing with a mere basket against the Knights, chipping in 12 points to go along with 5 rebounds. Kori Arnold added 8 as well.
Rebounding was the only place Bennington had an advantage over the Trojans, pulling down 33, including 10 offensively, opposed to Hillsboro’s 29.
The victory improved Hillsboro’s season record to 20-3. The third-seeded Trojans will take on six-seed Wichita County-Leoti in Thursday’s 8 p.m. game. The Indians enter at 19-4, with many of their wins coming against 1A teams out west.
Bluebird season ends 11-11
Goessel’s boys played in the semifinals of their 1A Division I sub-state tournament at the Bluebird gym, but the Elyria Christian boys ended the Bluebirds’ season with a barrage of three-pointers and scrappy defense.
The Bluebirds gathered in their share of rebounds in the first quarter and at one point led 9-6.
The Eagles began warming up and led 15-11 at the end of the first period. Goessel got as close as 17-16 early in the second quarter, but it would be more than eight minutes before the Bluebirds would score again, and Elyria Christian already tallied 14 consecutive points.
The Eagles led 39-21 at the end of the third quarter, and cold shooting for the Bluebirds in the fourth period doomed their chances to catch up.
Elyria Christian defeated Goessel by a final score of 57-28. The Bluebird’s season ended with a record of 11-11.
Leading scored for Goessel was junior Noah Schrag with 9 points. He was followed by seniors Caleb Burkholder and Joey Lapp with 6 points apiece.
Cougars vs. Cougars in 4-point loss
Centre fans were thrilled to see their Cougar boys (6-15) get off to a good start Friday against Central Christian (7-13) at the Burrton 1A Division II sub-state semi-finals.
The Centre Cougars had a lot of steals and forced several Central Christian turnovers to lead by nine points, 17-8, after one quarter.
Gentri Holub, who played after being sidelined with an injury for much of the season, joined Santiago Knepp, Nick Krch, and Dane Meier for the 17 points.
The Central Christian Cougars stepped up their tempo in the second quarter and got within four, 26-22, by halftime.
Central Christian opened the third quarter with a bang. The team scored three consecutive three-pointers and a free throw to take a seven-point lead.
But Centre fought back. Krch, Holub, Knepp, and Robert Spohn scored to give Centre a one-point lead.
The game was tied with 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and Centre trailed by one point after Central Christian made a basket and Krch made a free throw.
The game remained close in the fourth quarter, but Central Christian came out ahead, 53-49.
Holub led scoring with 18 points. He also had eight rebounds and three steals.
Krch made 11 points and logged seven steals.
Knepp scored 10 points, with five rebounds and four steals.
Robert Spohn scored eight points, with six rebounds, and Dane Meier had two points and five rebounds.
Centre ended its season with a record of 6-16. All but one player will be back next year.
“We are going to work hard this summer,” coach Richard Idleman said. “It’s a team that started to blossom at the end of the year. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t have gotten there sooner. I’m looking forward to next year.”
Last modified March 9, 2023