The Hillsboro High School boys’ basketball team knew Southeast of Saline had the taller team coming into Monday’s game in Hillsboro.
The Trojans were able to achieve a 52-34 victory because they rebounded well as a team and put together their best defensive effort of the season.
Hillsboro won the rebounding battle, 25-15. Christian Ratzlaff led the team with 6 boards, but rebounding was a team effort with 11 Trojans recording at least one rebound in the contest. Hillsboro allowed 3 offensive rebounds in the game.
“I thought we rebounded really well tonight,” head coach Darrel Knoll said. “We had very few missed block outs. We needed to keep them off the boards.”
The other advantage when the Trojans rebound is the drive to push the ball after the board is secured. Jesse Allen pulled down 5 rebounds; on his 4 defensive boards he immediately turned to sprint up the floor. It led to a majority of his 4 assists. Brett Weinbrenner recorded 3 rebounds, and he converted all of his boards on the other end into assists; he led the team with 5 helpers.
Benefiting from the up-and-down game was Hillsboro guard Shaq Thiessen. He was often out in front of the pack and scored much of his game high 19 points in transition.
Knoll praised the Trojans’ effort on the defensive end of the floor. Hillsboro played active man-to-man defense recording 10 steals; Thiessen, Josh Wiebe, and Allen each had 2 steals. The Trojans also made sure to contest every shot. The combination of these two efforts led to the Trojans not allowing a double-digit quarter through three quarters.
Ratzlaff checked SES top scorer Nathan Peterson most of the game. While Peterson eventually scored 11 points, Ratzlaff only allowed the SES guard to score 6 points through three quarters. Hillsboro held a 17 point lead, 37-20, after three quarters.
“He was kind of elusive,” Ratzlaff said of Peterson. “I just tried to keep the spacing. My teammates played the screens really well.”
With SES playing man-to-man in the first quarter, Hillsboro jumped out to a 9-0 lead.
“I love that; I wish every team would play man,” Ratzlaff said.
After a timeout with 3 minute, 43 seconds left in the first quarter, SES called a timeout and switched to a 2-3 zone. The Trojans took advantage of the defensive adjustment by driving into the zone, drawing multiple defenders and kicking out. Soon after the switch, Ratzlaff recorded offensive rebounds on three consecutive possessions.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Ratzlaff said.
The Trojans will play Remington at 6 p.m. Thursday in Sedgwick. Remington defeated Trinity Catholic of Hutchinson, 65-27, on Monday. If the Trojans advance, they will play the winner of Moundridge and Sedgwick at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.