Hillsboro holds off Redskins, 43-38, for first win
It will not go down as one of the prettiest games the Trojans have played, but when you’re starving for a win, it most certainly suits better than a defeat.
Through three games, Hillsboro’s been looking for a way to get on track.
The season opener at Wichita Collegiate (arguably Class 3A’s best team), withered away in the second half, as did games against Garden Plain and Hesston.
Saturday, in the fifth-place game of the Moundridge preseason tournament, the Trojans were able to play strong in both halves.
Hillsboro got a game-high 20 points from Ben Bebermeyer and overcame adversity to sink Class 1A Little River, 43-38, for fifth place.
Hillsboro was in the fifth-place game after falling Dec. 7 to Garden Plain, 68-58, and to Hesston, 63-36, Thursday.
“Any win is a win right now,” Trojan coach Darrel Knoll said. “The best thing about today was I finally thought we turned out a defensive effort. We played hard, we rotated around, and we weren’t soft anywhere and we didn’t give up any easy shots.
“During the first three games, there were times I thought we really got soft. This time I thought we played really hard the entire time on defense. That was a major goal today.”
It’s not too often when a team shoots 31 percent from the field and wins a game, but with a pesky defense, it’s not impossible.
The battle for fifth place was anything but easy, though, with three ties in the first quarter.
Jesse Allen added nine points for the Trojans burying a three just before the buzzer to give Hillsboro an 11-8 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Trojans stretched their lead to 20-13 with just over five minutes remaining in the first half, capped by a three-point play from Grant Shewey.
The Redskins would rally furiously, trimming the lead to 24-20 by halftime with Hillsboro struggling to find the basket on 9-for-26 from the field.
Little River stayed hot on the Trojans’ trail the second half, cutting the lead to one point three times before Bebermeyer gave Hillsboro a 32-28 lead with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The shots came no easier as Hillsboro was only able to muster 5-for-15 in the third — 6-of-24 the second half.
Still, with a smothering defense, it was enough to keep the Trojans’ heads above water the remainder of the game.
Bebermeyer flushed a three just before the buzzer to give Hillsboro a 36-30 advantage heading into the final stretch.
Little River had three chances to overtake the lead in the closing 6:30, but the Trojans got four points from Bebermeyer and a pair of free throws from Shewey to stay afloat.
The Redskins went the final three minutes without a basket, and Allen sank one-of-two free throws with eight seconds left to make it a two-possession game.
“We just didn’t make shots. It’ll come around yet,” Knoll said. “The best part was the defense. We need some confidence now and we know we have a lot of improving we need to do.
“We’re just going to get better and better; that’s all we can do.”
The Trojans faced a challenging test Tuesday traveling to upstart Nickerson before closing out the year Friday at home against Sterling.
Friday’s game time is slated for around 8 p.m., which is after the girls game.