The Hillsboro boys’ basketball team will make its first state tournament appearance since 2004 Thursday.
After substate wins against Peabody-Burns and Moundridge, the Trojans scored big in the third quarter to defeat Berean Academy 54-30.
The game began close, with Berean tying the game twice at two and five. Senior Brett Weinbrenner scored Hillsboro’s first seven points before Christian Ratzlaff made a free throw and last-second three for an 11-7 lead.
Leading 16-13 with about 90 seconds left in the first half, Ratzlaff scored six consecutive points, extending the lead to nine. Two Berean free throws made the score 22-15 at halftime.
Coach Darrel Knoll said the team talked about increasing its defensive effort in the second half and continuing to shoot shots with confidence. The result was a 24-point third-quarter outburst, all but ending the game.
Knoll said the boys did a good job of forcing Berean into tough shots, and running the floor after rebounds.
“When you’re sharp like that, it’s easy to make shots, and the guys just knocked them down,” he said. “I’m not sure how many threes we hit in the third quarter, but it pretty much extended the game and put them (Berean) away.”
In the third quarter Weinbrenner scored nine, Ratzlaff, eight; and Jordan Faul, seven. Between the three, they made five threes.
Leading 46-24 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Trojans cruised to the win, and the state tournament.
Ratzlaff, who missed out playing for a shot at state last season due to injury, said it feels good to make it this season.
“I think we’re going to keep it rolling,” he said. “We go on streaks, and I think this is a way to start it.”
The Trojans will play Olpe at 4:45 p.m. Thursday at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan in the 2A state quarterfinals.
Semifinals vs. Moundridge
The Trojans came from seven points down in the fourth quarter to take a five-point lead before giving up the lead again and finally winning on a buzzer-beater in the semifinals Friday against Moundridge.
Hillsboro struggled from the field for most of the game, but managed to take a 13-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. A low-scoring second quarter ended with Moundridge ahead 20-19 at halftime, and the Wildcats still held a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter, 29-28.
Moundridge started the fourth quarter with a six-point run, scoring on the block and from the free-throw line while Hillsboro’s jump shots missed the mark, prompting a Hillsboro timeout with 5:42 left. After the timeout, Ratzlaff hit a three-pointer from the wing and Weinbrenner got a steal, layup, and foul shot to cut the deficit to one, 35-34.
Moundridge scored again in the post, but Micah Allen made a layup after a steal, then gave Hillsboro the lead with a corner three when Ratzlaff passed to him off of a baseline drive. Hillsboro led 39-37. On the defensive end, Evan Ollenburger took a charge with 43 seconds left, and Moundridge had to foul to extend the game. Weinbrenner hit one free throw, and Jesse Brown forced a jump ball on the rebound of the missed free throw. Ollenburger then sank two free throws, extending the lead to 42-37.
Moundridge hit a three, then Ratzlaff missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity, and Brown was called for a foul, giving Moundridge two free throws to tie the game at 42 with seven seconds left.
After the second free throw, Weinbrenner pushed the ball up the court as fast as he could and found Allen open under the basket. Allen’s shot paused on the rim before rolling in as time expired, giving Hillsboro a 44-42 victory.
“It’s good to get a last-second win,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “We lost three of them this year.”
He said he decided not to call a timeout after the free throws because he didn’t want to give Moundridge a chance to set its defense. He told his players to get it down the court and look for something at the rim.
“We work on getting out in our lanes and run down the floor,” Allen said. “The defense was over the top and Brett made a really good pass.”
Allen and Weinbrenner led the team with 14 points each. Ratzlaff had 7 points; Jordan Faul, 6; and Ollenburger, 3.