Trojans' 26-game streak ends
Also a rugged week for Hillsboro girls
It’s doubtful there will be any complaints from Hillsboro High School basketball teams about not having to see the Hesston Swathers again this season.
Friday night’s rematch in Hesston with their bitter rivals showed there’s plenty to shore up with just three games left in the regular season.
But there’s more work to do for the Trojan girls than the boys with Hillsboro suffering through a winless week in perhaps its toughest stretch of the season.
The week got off to a rough start for the girls Tuesday, tumbling 54-49 to the visiting Haven Wildcats, and got no better three nights later against the Swathers.
A 49-38 loss to Hesston dropped Hillsboro to 10-7 on the year with the road getting no easier.
Pesky Halstead will visit Thursday for the final home game before the Trojans close out the regular season Tuesday at 3A’s fourth-ranked Nickerson.
On the boys’ side, the Trojans got the upper hand on the Swathers, 3A’s top-ranked team at the time, in the title game of the Trojan Classic earlier this season, but Hesston got the last laugh Friday.
Now third-ranked in 3A, the Swathers spoiled 2A top-ranked Hillsboro’s unbeaten season, hanging on in a 63-62 thriller, dropping the top-ranked Trojans to 16-1.
Feb. 11 has been a bad day for the Trojans for two years in a row.
The date was the final time Hillsboro tasted defeat a year ago, 44-30, to none other than the Swathers, in Hillsboro.
The Trojans reeled off 26 straight wins afterward, including the 2021 Class 2A title and a victory last month. Hesston, meanwhile, captured a state title itself.
The game between the Central Kansas League’s two biggest bullies was all it was built up to be with a trio of high-flying dunks and ties and five lead changes.
Hillsboro jumped out to an 11-7 lead after the first quarter, but neither team could build a stable enough lead to pull away. The Trojans pushing the lead to as much as seven with 4:40 left in the first half.
By the break, however, Hesston was breathing down Hillsboro’s neck, trailing by just three, and the tide turned.
Transition defense and dictating the pace made the difference in the first meeting, but the shoe was on the other foot Friday.
The Swathers took advantage of fast breaks and high percentage shots to shoot a blazing 67% in the second half (56% on the night) while outrebounding the Trojans, 35-29.
Hesston also got an edge at the free-throw line with 16 more attempts, despite shooting a cool 44%.
Hillsboro still had victory within its grasp, despite falling as far behind as 13 with 1:40 left in the game, but Breckyn Ratzlaff’s three at the buzzer for the final score wasn’t enough with Hillsboro trailing two possessions.
Ratzlaff scored a game-high 22, including four threes. Frank Wichert added 15; Matt Potucek, 14; and Grayson Ratzlaff, 10, with all five Trojan starters finishing with four or more fouls and Hillsboro hitting just 43% from the floor, 38% in the second half.
A victory over the Swathers would have come in handy, given what’s still on the horizon for the Trojans, but Hesston having built a 10-point lead heading into the final stretch was an obstacle too steep to climb.
The opener’s first half was very similar to the nightcap with neither team able to gain much footing.
Hillsboro jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening minute — as far away as the Trojans could get — but Hesston overtook the lead with a 13-3 run and never looked back.
Savannah Shahan and Zaylee Werth combined for 24 of the Trojans’ 38 points, with Shahan’s team-high 14. Outside of their scoring and Emersyn Funk’s eight, Hillsboro could only muster six points.
Hesston got a combined 33 points from Caryn Yoder and Kendal Brueggen with Yoder’s game-high 18. The Swathers got production from all but two of their players despite ragged 31% shooting.
The two teams managed 40% from the floor in the first half, and Hillsboro was hot on Hesston’s tail by halftime, down 22-20.
The third quarter was when things went south for the Trojans with both teams shooting barely 20% from the field.
Hesston kept Hillsboro off the glass, 34-26, while limiting the Trojans to a quartet of offensive rebounds.
The Swathers outscored Hillsboro 13-5 in the third quarter and slowed the game down to keep the Trojans at bay.
Hillsboro rallied furiously in the fourth quarter for 13 points, but the third quarter was too much to overcome.
Last modified Feb. 17, 2022