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Hillsboro boys punch ticket to state

Girls bow out in semifinal

The last time Hillsboro boys basketball faced Sacred Heart, a last second 3-pointer sunk the Trojans’ state title hopes in in 2017. 

Saturday night in Herington was a different story, with Hillsboro’s 61-47 victory earning the team a trip to state in Manhattan. 

A last second three wouldn’t have mattered for Sacred Heart, with second seed Hillsboro using a 36-23 second half to knock off the top-seeded Knights. 

“I thought the big key for us was in the first quarter when they were playing unbelievably tough defense, we kept moving the ball and working and working, we didn’t panic and take bad shots,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “We didn’t make them early, but they didn’t cause us to shoot it quick.”

The Trojans roll into Kansas State’s Bramlage Coliseum as an eighth seed with a record of 14-9. 

Neither team got out of the gate quick with the Knights taking a 9-6 lead after the first quarter with Breckyn Ratzlaff starting to warm up. 

Ratzlaff dropped a game-high 21 points on the Knights, with 14 in the first half as the Trojan were down 25-24 at the half despite shooting a hot 55% from the floor. 

The freshly returned senior Caleb Potucek had 14 points, including a trio of second-half 3-pointers, and Dillon Boldt added 10 points while also supplying three triples. 

The Knights were still hanging to a 28-26 early in the third quarter before the floor gave way. 

A Boldt 3-pointer sparked an 8-2 run, opening a 34-30 lead with just under 4:00 left in the third quarter. 

The Knights knotted the game up at 34-34, but Hillsboro used a 9-1 run to push the lead to 43-35 heading into the final stretch. 

While 13-of-24 at the free throw line wasn’t fantastic the second half, it was enough to keep adding to Hillsboro’s lead while the Trojans hit 47% for the game. 

The Trojans also emerged victorious in the rebounding battle, 31-27, with Matthew Potucek and Tristan Reed pulling down game-highs of five each.

Hillsboro will face the top-seed and Class 2A’s top ranked Pratt-Skyline Thunderbirds at 3 p.m., who have a record of 22-1

Hillsboro cruised past Chase County 64-30 in Friday’s semifinal. 

Girls fall in substate semis

Getting efficient offense to take down better teams has historically been a struggle for Hillsboro girls basketball.

The Trojans have competed with good teams on a regular basis, but it’s usually one bad half that added up to tough endings.

Instead of just one half Saturday night, the Trojans got an entire game in Class 2A’s Herington substate final against Bennington with a state tournament ticket on the line. 

Hillsboro’s fallacies cost them at the end, falling 42-22 to the quicker, better Bulldogs.

Despite the loss, the Trojans’ final mark of 14-9 snaps six seasons of finishing south of .500. 

“We had a great season, I am extremely proud of our girls, we improved on a lot of things,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “Our defense was improved; we took care of the basketball better and competed better against some of those top teams.”

Hillsboro’s road to the title game included surviving a gruesome 30-28 win Monday against Herington, and whipping top-seeded Chase County 46-33 in Thursday’s semifinal. 

The Trojans’ offense could never get in gear when it mattered most against Bennington, though, with the smothering Bulldog defense keeping Hillsboro on its heels all night. 

“Their defense was really good, they pressured us to do things that we weren’t used to,” Hiebert said.

The Bulldogs led the entire game, building a 10-5 lead after the first quarter with the Trojans’ top two scorers, Teegan Werth, and Kinsey Kleiner, in a severe funk. 

Kleiner scored a team-high eight points as the tandem went a combined 3-for-24 from the field for 13%. 

Hillsboro got as close as 12-9 early in the second quarter, but Bennington stepped on the gas for a 9-0 run. The Bulldogs took a 21-9 lead into half despite shooting just over 30% for the game. 

Those were the last points the Trojans could get until there was 6:00 left in the third quarter, and the Bulldogs scored the final 5 points to leave Hillsboro doubled over at 28-14 heading into the final quarter. 

An ugly 4-for-17 shooting the second half, 21% for the game, left Hillsboro with single digit quarters in all four, its best 8-point output coming too little too late. 

Hillsboro pulled within 12 twice in the fourth quarter, but Bennington pushed the lead as deep as 21 with 46 seconds left on its way to the win. 

Jessica Saunders added six points, and Tuesday Weisbeck pulled down a game-best six rebounds to help the Trojans win the battle on the glass, 35-27. 

The Trojans bid farewell to seniors Addie Berens and Mallory Ediger, but return all five starters to challenge for more in 2020-2021.

Last modified March 11, 2020

 

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