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Trojans rally to edge Nickerson

Hillsboro boys come from behind to survive Panther scare, 44-43

Through 10 games, one of the Trojan boys basketball team’s biggest opponents has been themselves, or for that matter, finding consistency.

At times, Hillsboro’s been able to piece together solid basketball, and at stretches, looked flat.

So far this season, one of the strange mysteries surrounding the Trojans is figuring out how to get Friday night’s momentum carried over into the next week.

Hillsboro’s 3-1 on Fridays, but 1-4 on Tuesday with one of its five victories coming on a Thursday.

It took coming from behind Friday at home against the Nickerson Panthers, but Jesse Allen was able to preserve a 44-43 win for the Trojans (5-5, 2-0 in the Central Kansas League).

Allen scored the game-winning basket with 13 seconds left before recovering a loose ball on an inbounds play under the Panther basket as time expired.

“I told the guys after the game that that was a hard fought victory,” an exhausted Trojan coach Darrel Knoll said. “When things looked like they weren’t going our way, especially in that third quarter when we didn’t play basketball the way we played the first half.

“To regroup like that and come back and make plays, they’d make a couple, then we’d get back behind, but just to keep fighting was tremendous. I was really proud.”

The Trojans were fighting an uphill battle until Josh Wiebe scored the go-ahead basket with about 1:40 left in the first quarter.

Wiebe came off the bench to score 9 points, giving Hillsboro a lead in the game with 1:03 still to go in the opening quarter, 11-6, on a fast break.

Nickerson got absolutely no production from its bench, being outscored 28-0 by Hillsboro, not to mention going the closing 4:15 of the first quarter without a basket.

The Panthers also had to contend with a stingy Trojan defense, which limited them to a sole assist and just five offensive rebounds with Hillsboro crushing them rebounding, 34-19.

Through the first 9:30 of the game, McCaulley Kluesner was the only Panther that scored at all, but it was Keelan Jackson who regained the lead for Nickerson, 1:32 into the second quarter.

Kluesner alone kept the Panthers in the game, dropping a game-high 25 points on the Trojans, shooting 10-for-15 from the field, including two 3s.

Hillsboro had to endure a pair of scoring lapses the remainder of the half and another basket by Jackson left the Panthers hot on the Trojans tail at halftime, as they were down 17-16.

Shooting 29 percent from the floor the first half and 0-of-7 from outside kept the Trojans from establishing a comfortable lead as they managed 18-for-46 on the game and 25 percent from outside.

The Trojans got good shots, but they weren’t falling and Nickerson used a 7-0 run to push the lead to 23-17 by the time Brett Weinbrenner scored Hillsboro’s first basket of the second half.

A 3-pointer by Jared Hamm, a free throw from Allen, and back-to-back 3s by freshman Christian Ratzlaff helped put the Trojans back on top, 29-28 with just over 1:30 to go in the third.

Ratzlaff came off the bench to score a team-high 13 points, shooting 5-of-9 from the field and his 8 consecutive points left the game deadlocked at 31 heading into the final stretch.

The game got really wild the fourth quarter with the Panthers pulling ahead by two possessions after Kluesner made it a 35-31 score with just over 6:00 left.

Ben Bebermeyer buried a 3 to pull Hillboro to within 35-34 on the next possession, but the lead changed five more times and the score was tied twice before Allen’s heroics.Bebermeyer was called for a technical with 4:11 to go, slapping the backboard while trying to stop Tyler Collier’s layup, allowing Nickerson to regain the lead.

Kluesner’s one-of-two free throws put the Panthers ahead 43-42 with 33 seconds remaining, but Allen scored on a follow and drew a foul for the final margin.

With just under seven seconds left, Kluesner had a chance to win the game, but Wiebe stole the ball and knocked it out to set Allen up as the hero.

In a mad scramble for the inbounds pass, the ball was taken loss and Allen recovered in the lane as the buzzer sounded.

“It’s tremendously big,” said Knoll of the Trojan victory. “Being 5-5 looks a lot better than 4-6, we’ve just had our ups and downs and we’ve got to find a way to get some consistency.

“The thing about tonight that I was most pleased with was how hard we battled. We didn’t put our heads down when things started to go against us.”

The Trojans face a tough week, playing host to the Trojan Classic, which began Tuesday against the Wamego Red Raiders.

Last modified Jan. 20, 2011

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