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Teutons slip past Trojans

Inman deals Trojans 53-49 season-ending stunner

Staff writer

Four months ago, the Trojan boys’ basketball team began its quest to return to Manhattan’s Class 2A state basketball tournament at the Moundridge Preseason Tournament.

Last week, two-thirds of the field Hillsboro upended en route to capturing the tournament title, Moundridge and Inman, would be foes again.

This time, the stakes were higher, with a ticket to Manhattan on the line in substate tournament play.

The fourth-seeded Teutons got retribution from the 61-51 Dec. 8 loss when it mattered most, beating the Trojans in Saturday’s championship game by a 53-49 heartbreaker.

Inman advanced to Manhattan while second-seeded Hillsboro ended its season at 17-6.

The rematch with the Teutons wouldn’t have happened had the Trojans not fought off a furious fourth-quarter rally Friday to outlast Moundridge, 61-50, while Inman dispatched top-seeded Berean, 37-29.

While a 12-10 advantage in turnovers is often enough to win games, Hillsboro’s 10 came back to bite them when the game was on the line, giving Inman a 10-4 edge in points off turnovers.

“We had too many turnovers, starting the middle of the second quarter,” a sullen Trojan coach Darrel Knoll said. “Some of them were forced and things we normally don’t get called on we did and the turnovers really hurt us a lot.

“Give them (Inman) credit, they played well, we just didn’t get it done the way we needed to. We missed a lot of shots we normally don’t. We didn’t make our own breaks and we didn’t get a break.”

The game began looking like the Trojans would have smooth sailing, with the Teutons opening 0-for-7 from the floor while Hillsboro built a 6-0 lead 2:45 into the game.

Wes Shaw scored 8 of his 14 points in the first quarter, pushing the Trojan lead to 12-5 before the Teutons used an 8-3 burst to pull to 15-13 to start the second quarter.

Foul trouble neutralized Shaw, though, leaving the Trojans short-handed dealing with the Teutons’ 6-8 Mason Thiessen.

Just as he did in the first meeting, Thiessen took advantage of Hillsboro’s lack of size inside, dropping a game-high 23 points on the Trojans and finishing one rebound shy of another double-double.

Darian Ratzlaff scored a team-high 15 points, burying a three to give Hillsboro its largest lead of the night, 21-13, with 6:47 left before halftime.

Behind 50 percent shooting, 43 overall coupled with Hillsboro’s carelessness with the ball, Inman ended the half on a 13-5 run with Jaxson Eddy’s buzzer-beating fast break knotting the game at 26.

Shooting 36 percent on the night, the seas got choppy for the Trojans in a fatal third quarter, shooting a woeful 4-for-14 and going the closing 2:45 without a basket.

Despite a 14-13 fourth quarter for Inman, it was the 13-9 third, which proved to be the difference.

Inman had overtaken the lead before then, though, 39-35 heading into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter was a mad scramble to the ticket window with the lead changing hands five times and three ties in a 6:50 span.

Playing his final game as a Trojan, Elias Werth added 13 points, canning one last three to regain the lead, 42-41, with 5:53 left.

Hillsboro went up one last time with 1:55 to go, 49-48, on Ratzlaff’s three-point play, before going under for good.

The Teutons nailed the door shut with 4 seconds left with Thiessen’s 1-of-2 making it a two- possession game.

“We had a great year, guys stepped up when we had those injury troubles and we played really well,” said Knoll. “Tonight just didn’t go our way.”

Along with Werth, the Trojans also bid farewell to Brodie Rathbone, Elliott Ollenburger, and Samuel Damon.

Last modified March 8, 2018

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