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Knoll notches 400, Trojans hold off Eagles

49-41 victory over Kingman assures Hillsboro boys winning season

Hillsboro High School Trojan coach Darrel Knoll began his highly successful 23-year career in early December 1988.

Behind such standouts as Eric Jones, Craig Duerksen, and the Ratzlaff, Brubacher, and Weinbrenner brothers, Knoll has made 10 Class 3A state tournaments, winning a trio of titles, and taking second and third as many times.

Averaging 17 wins a season, last year’s 2-17 catastrophe marked the first time in 22 years a Knoll-team suffered a losing season.

With the possibility of capturing his 400th victory on the horizon at the beginning of the season, the only team standing in Knoll’s way Friday night in Hillsboro was the Kingman Eagles.

Despite never being able to get a solid flow in the game and a late Eagle surge, the Trojans assured Knoll his 400th win by holding off the Eagles, 49-41.

The win not only reached Knoll’s milestone, it insured a winning record for the Trojans, boosting their mark to 11-8 on the year and 6-2 in the Central Kansas League.

“We never had good rhythm in the game tonight from the start for whatever reason that was,” Knoll said.

“For a game as out-of-synch as it was, in a way it was kind of frustrating, I was really proud of the guys for continuing to play hard.”

Throughout the year, Hillsboro had little trouble solving a pressing defense.

But Friday night, the Eagles’ pressure defense gave the Trojans headaches; allowing Kingman to get its foot in the door each time Hillsboro tried to close it.

The game went back and forth nearly the entire first half with the lead changing eight times in the first quarter alone before Lyle Adelhardt gave the Eagles a 9-7 edge to start the second quarter.

Hillsboro struggled to make shots, going 3-for-11 in the first quarter and 7-of-23 by halftime for 30 percent.

For the game, the Trojans only managed 15-of-43 and 4-of-14 from outside to finish under 35 percent.

Blake Bergkamp’s basket to start the second quarter gave Kingman its largest lead of the game, 11-7, just a minute in.

The lead changed hands six more times until Josh Wiebe barely beat the buzzer to put Hillsboro up 19-18 at halftime.

The Trojans started to get on track in the second half after Adelhardt buried a 3-pointer to regain the lead for Kingman.

Playing his final regular season game at Hillsboro, senior Ben Bebermeyer fueled an 8-3 surge, which left the Eagles playing from behind after the two-minute 52-second mark in the third quarter.

Brett Weinbrenner and senior Jerod Hamm combined for 10 points and helped the Trojan margin inflate to 34-28, heading into the fourth quarter.

Weinbrenner added 5 points more and Tyrell Thiessen scored a basket to push the Trojan lead as far as 41-28 with just over 6:30 remaining.

Kingman still had a run left and Mikabe Erdman triggered 5 consecutive points to pull the Eagles to 45-41 with 40 seconds remaining.

But precision free-throw shooting sealed Knoll’s 400th victory with the Trojans hitting a perfect 10-for-10 down the stretch.

Jesse Allen scored a team-high 15 points for the Trojans, draining 9-for-10 at the free-throw line.

Joining Hamm and Bebermeyer in playing his final home game was Caleb Hilliard with the trio recognized prior to the tip-off.

Afterward, Hillsboro’s winningest coach admitted 400 wasn’t the freshest thing in his mind.

“I hadn’t thought about it too much,” said Knoll. “It’s a major accomplishment not only in terms of longevity. I’ve had a lot of really good players who have listened to me and practiced hard all the way back to the beginning. That wasn’t the first thing on my mind.

“I guess I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the guys that have played. My wife (Lanna), Dr. Brown, James Thomas, Max Heinrichs, Gordon Mohn, Robert Rempel, and Steve Noble have been tremendous in their support. They’ve had confidence in me that make my job much easier.”

The Trojans closed out the year Tuesday night at Haven before gearing up for the second half of the year with the Halstead sub-state.

“Some of the things we’ve been struggling with, we’re starting to corrected and hopefully we will as we get into the playoffs,” Knoll said.

“We’re playing to win, not hoping to win.”

Last modified Feb. 24, 2011

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