Trojans salvage split with Haven
Second half dooms girls, boys shake off slow start
For 24 minutes Friday night in Hillsboro, the Trojan girls’ basketball team actually had Class 3A’s top-ranked team, Haven, on the ropes, up 27-25 at halftime.
Playing arguably their best half this season, the Trojans attacked the basket, shared the ball, and denied Haven’s deadly perimeter shooter Emmiley Hendrixson uncontested shots.
Unfortunately, the Trojans blew a tire right before halftime, with Hendrixson sinking a trio of free throws after time expired.
Everything that had gone right the first half fizzled out the second with the Wildcats outscoring Hillsboro, 34-14, for a 59-41 win.
The loss drops Hillsboro to 6-4 on the year and 1-2 in league play.
“I felt like the first half we were the aggressors,” coach Nathan Hiebert said. “It was our transition defense that really hurt us.
“That was by far our best half of the season against the best team. I was proud of them, we proved we can come out and be aggressive and physical against a great team.”
Hendrixson was still a problem for the Trojans, though, dropping a game-high 20 points on them behind 6-for-16 shooting, including a trio of threes.
Hillsboro had the Wildcats down as many as seven the first quarter, 12-5, after a basket by Kinsey Kleiner with just under 3:30 remaining.
Haven used a 10-3 run and Hendrixson layup to knot the game at 15, right before the first quarter buzzer.
The Trojans again stretched their lead as far as 27-20 with Abby Sechrist’s basket with just over 2:00 left in the first half.
Sechrist’s basket at the 6:35 mark of the third quarter put Hillsboro ahead 30-2, one of only three field goals the entire second half.
Hendrixson buried a three with 3:30 left in the third quarter, putting the Wildcats ahead for good.
Sienna Kaufman scored a team-high 13 points for the Trojans and Teegan Werth added 10.
Days after helping coach Darrel Knoll capture his 500th win, the Trojans appeared to have celebrated too hard, coming out of the gate flat.
It took better than three quarters before the Trojans ran down the Wildcats and clawed their way to a 63-53 win.
The win bumps Hillsboro to 9-1 on the year and a perfect 4-0 in CKL action.
“We had no energy the first quarter,” Knoll said. “We kept playing, though. Everybody helped out and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
The Trojans would be hard pressed to find a tougher way to start a game than Friday, with Haven pulling in front 13-6 after the first quarter.
For a team that thrives on its perimeter shooting, Hillsboro had to contend with a chilly 1-for-12 from three the first half and 29 percent overall.
Elias Werth scored a team-high 14 points, sparking an 8-2 run in the final 2:42 of the first half which pulled the Trojans to within 21-20 at the break.
The lead would stretch back to 27-20 in the opening 1:15 of the second half before Darian Ratzlaff scored Hillsboro’s first points of the second half nearly 2:00 in.
Haven’s blistering 64 percent shooting in the third quarter kept Hillsboro playing from behind, even shooting 44 percent and 40 for the game.
The Trojans finally got over the hill when Caleb Potucek buried a go-ahead three with 5:09 left in the game that put Hillsboro ahead for good, 46-44.
A furious 26-10 fourth- quarter rally included the Trojans hitting 14 of-18 at the free-throw line, as well as 7-for-8 in the closing 49 seconds.
Wes Shaw scored 11 points while pulling down a game-high eight rebounds, and Ratzlaff and Potucek combined for 20 points with 10 each.
Up next for the Trojans this week is Hillsboro’s Trojan Classic tournament.
The Trojan boys’ team opens the tournament Thursday against Sunrise Academy with a 7 p.m. start.
Cold causes tourney shuffle
Thanks to rescheduling caused by brutally cold temperatures, high school basketball fans can still catch all opening round games of the annual Hillsboro High School Trojans Classic today and Thursday.
Hillsboro and Sunrise boys will play today’s only contest at 3 p.m. at the high school gym.
Seven Tuesday games have been rescheduled to Thursday, beginning at 3 p.m. at the high school and 4:30 p.m. at Tabor College. Hillsboro and Sunrise girls will tip off at 7:30 p.m. at the high school.
Friday and Saturday schedules remain the same.
Last modified Jan. 18, 2018