Trojan teams salvage split with Dragons
Girls roll, boys drop heartbreaker
They’re not likely to be included on any highlight reels the Trojan basketball teams might do at season’s end.
But considering Friday’s long round trip to Belle Plaine was the season opener, things are likely to get better.
The girls got off on the right foot, shaking off miseries taking care of the basketball and first-game jitters to slay the Dragons, 48-20.
The boys weren’t as fortunate as cold shooting was instrumental in a 58-56 crusher.
The Trojans are in action this week competing in the Moundridge preseason tournament with games on Thursday and Friday against Lyons and the hometown Wildcats.
Trojan coach Nathan Hiebert isn’t likely to be boasting about having an experienced team this year.
With much of his rotation underclassmen, they have to adjust from coming off the bench a year ago to the starting lineup.
That might have attributed for the Trojans’ rugged start for the first 6:00 of the contest with both teams fighting to get the lid off the basket.
Hillsboro only led 5-1 by the first quarter’s end with Kinsey Kleiner getting five of her 9 points.
Belle Plaine’s not exactly an experienced team, either, and it rankled the Dragons with the Trojan defense forcing an eye-popping 46 turnovers.
“The game was a little rough at first with neither team scoring in the first six minutes,” Hiebert said. “Our girls settled down and did a nice job.
“We got to play a lot of girls, which was good to get the early season jitters out. We did outrebound them and had fewer turnovers, but we still had way too many, too.”
Belle Plaine couldn’t keep the lid off, shooting an abysmal 15 percent from the field with the Trojans solving the Dragons’ pressure.
The Trojans got on track the second quarter, pushing their lead to 18-7 by halftime with their defense limiting Belle Plaine to single-digit quarters to pose no realistic threat.
Behind a game-high 14 points from Teegan Werth, Hillsboro shot 34 percent from the floor, including 43 the fourth quarter.
Jessica Saunders added six points as Hiebert played all his reserves.
The Trojans lost Tuesday 46-9 to Inman at the Moundridge tournament. The tournament finishes Friday.
Through the years, the Trojans have been able to pride themselves with the ability to come up with big plays when the game’s been on the line.
On Friday, it was the Dragons making the big plays, which kept the momentum and lead on their side.
“We played well, we just didn’t shoot as well as we normally do,” Trojan coach Darrel Knoll said. “Belle Plaine’s a good team. They came up with big plays in key moments.”
If the Trojans are wondering where the game short-circuited, the second and third quarters are the first places to look.
Even shooting 32 percent on the night, Belle Plaine’s 28-21 edge in the two quarters was enough to put Hillsboro in a hole it could never completely dig out of.
The Dragons opened the game shooting a chilling 19 percent the first quarter, but the Trojans still couldn’t distance themselves. The most the Trojans managed was a16-12 lead to start the second quarter, in spite of shooting 47 percent.
Any chance of extending the lead was thwarted by Hillsboro’s frigid 2-for-13 shooting from long range.
Belle Plaine used it to its advantage, grabbing a 28-26 lead at halftime with a 16-10 second quarter.
When the Dragons needed a key basket, the trio of Eli Wiseman, Bowen Gooch, and Tristan Warren obliged, with Wiseman dropping a game-high 18 points on Hillsboro.
Seven of Wiseman’s 18 came from the free-throw line, where the Dragons hit 14-for-16 opposed to the Trojans’ 10-for-13.
The Trojans countered with a team-high 15 points from Wes Shaw, 13 from Darian Ratzlaff, and 10 from Caleb Potucek.
Hillsboro even outrebounded the Dragons, 39-34, with Ratzlaff pulling down a game-high eight to go along with Shaw’s seven.
Despite hitting a blistering 58 percent the fourth quarter and 42 for the game, the Trojans didn’t have enough steam to finish with a win.
The boys dropped their second game in a row, 49-38 to Inman, as part of the Moundridge tournament. Inman opened the season as Kansas Basketball Coaches Association’s second-ranked team in 2A. The Moundridge tournament wraps up Friday.