With a 57-44 win over Hesston on Saturday, the Hillsboro High School boys basketball team won its home tournament.
“I’ve never felt this before,” starting point guard Brett Weinbrenner said of the tournament win. “I want to feel this again.”
Head coach Darrel Knoll had talked about the Trojans putting together a great offensive game where all his shooters were hitting, and the Trojans achieved that on Saturday.
They shot 53 percent from the floor.
Although the Trojans missed their very first shot, Jesse Allen corralled a defensive rebound and pushed the ball up the court on a fast break. He assisted on a layup by Christian Ratzlaff.
Knoll was pleased with the aggressive play of the Trojans in transition. Allen and Weinbrenner were the main Trojans who started fast breaks, either off rebounds or Hesston turnovers.
“We felt like we should get out and pressure them,” Knoll said. “This entire tournament, we played with more spring in our step.”
Allen was the jack of all trades for Hillsboro against Hesston. He led the team in rebounds with 8, assists with 3, and steals with 2. He was part of the reason the Trojans beat the Swathers on the boards, 26-15.
“He did all the tough things well,” Weinbrenner said.
The Hillsboro forward was also the Trojans primary post-up option. All three of Allen’s baskets were shots following a strong post move over a taller Hesston defender.
“He was great on defense; he talks on the court,” Knoll said of Allen. “His play was a large part of why we won this tournament.”
Weinbrenner was the leading scorer for the Trojans with 20 points on 9-for-14 shooting.
His game on Saturday illustrated what the Trojans did well on offense. When Hesston started the game playing man-to-man, Weinbrenner drove the ball to create space for pull-up and fade away jump shots. When Hesston switched to zone in the second quarter, Weinbrenner started knocking down catch-and-shoot opportunities from the outside, including his only 3-pointer of the night. When Hesston switched back to man in the third quarter, Weinbrenner ferociously drove the lane and nailed two highly contested layups among multiple Hesston defenders.
“Right from my first shot, I knew I was in the zone,” Weinbrenner said. “It’s crazy. It’s the best feeling you can have as a basketball player.”
Christian Ratzlaff was the second leading scorer for Hillsboro with 18 points. He went 7-for-9 from the field, 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.
“When he caught it, he was in position,” Knoll said of Ratzlaff. “I thought we did a better job of moving without the ball on offense.”
Shaq Thiessen poured in 11 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. He provided Weinbrenner and Allen with an athletic finisher on the break. Like Weinbrenner, Thiessen flashed an inside-outside game. He was able to knock down midrange shots early but completed an and-1 layup in the fourth quarter.
“He’s crazy athletic,” Weinbrenner said. “You can throw it up and he’ll go get it.”
Even though the Trojans were going to see the Swathers at home again on Jan. 31 the Hillsboro crowd could not resist a chant of “just like football.”
“I didn’t play football but I still think it was awesome,” Weinbrenner said of the chant.
Knoll’s focus now shifts to trying to keep the Trojans playing at a high level — attacking the paint on drives and kicking out on offense, running the floor hard, and playing disciplined man-to-man defense.
“We’ll just look at what we did well and continue to execute,” the head coach said.
Weinbrenner: 20 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist
Ratzlaff: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists
Thiessen: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 blocked shot
Allen: 6 point, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, two steals
Evan Ollenburger: 2 points, 2 rebounds
Josh Wiebe: 4 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, 1 steal
Luke Moore: 2 rebounds, 1 assist
HHS 51, TMP 36
“It’s my favorite game yet,” Ratzlaff said.
The Hillsboro wing stated the up-and-down contest against Thomas More Prep-Marian of Hays was a fun game to play in. It helps that the Trojans won the game, 51-36.
From the opening tip, neither team relented its assault on fast breaks. It played into the Trojans hands.
“That’s exactly how we want it,” Ratzlaff said. “We wore them down at the end.”
However, the game was closer than the score indicates. TMP led through the majority of three quarters behind the interior play of Kelton Shuckman.
TMP was up, 30-28, with about a minute left in the third quarter when Ollenburger tapped the ball away from Drew O’Brien near the half court line. The two guards scrambled for the ball and in the process O’Brien was called for a loose ball foul on Ollenburger. When he got up from the floor, O’Brien bounced the ball off the hard wood, high over his head, in frustration. The display drew a technical foul.
“That guy had really been in control all game,” Ratzlaff said. “It was just a moment that got in his head. Evan has the ability to do that to people.”
Moore hit one of the subsequent foul shots and with 5.9 seconds on the clock the Trojans had the ball. Off the sideline inbounds, Thiessen dribbled to the middle of the floor and nailed an off-balance 3-pointer. The score had suddenly reversed to a 32-30 Hillsboro advantage.
In the fourth quarter, the Trojans poured on the offense. Wiebe started the quarter with a layup, Ratlaff then knocked down a corner 3, Wiebe hit a layup in the lane after a Weinbrenner assist, Moore hit a layup after an Allen assist, and Weinbrenner finished the run with a 3-pointer from the right wing. It was a 19-6 quarter for Hillsboro that Wiebe and Weinbrenner finished with consecutive made free throws when TMP was forced to foul.
“Knoll was harping that we needed to get into the middle,” Ratzlaff said. “Finally everything opened up. Everybody was getting involved in the offense in this game.”
Thiessen was Hillsboro’s leading scorer with 13 points and rebounder with 6 boards.
Ratzlaff was second with 11 points.
“I was open for a few shots,” Ratzlaff said.
Allen was the assists leader for Hillsboro with 7.
Thiessen: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals
Ratzlaff: 11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals
Weinbrenner: 9 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal
Wiebe: 8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, 2 steals
Moore: 6 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals
Allen: 2 points, 2 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals
Ollenburger: 2 points
Devin Dick: 2 rebounds