For three quarters Friday night in Hillsboro, the Larned Indians did their fair share of creating problems for the Trojans’ boys’ basketball team.
A team hardly appearing imposing, the Indians’ pesky defense, combined with early foul trouble, kept the hot shooting Trojans from finding their groove.
Luckily, three quarters isn’t an entire game, and a 23-11 fourth quarter for Hillsboro (7-1) was enough to knock out a hard-fought 63-46 win.
“They (Larned) play hard, I thought they played great tonight,” Trojans coach Darrel Knoll said. “Offensively, we were pretty impatient, especially the first quarter, and really the entire game.
“We played good in stints where we put some points on the board, but rhythm wise, we weren’t as good as we normally are. It was still a good win for us.”
High percentage shots were hard to come by for the Trojans, who hit a first quarter scoring lapse which lasted nearly 6 minutes.
But the Indians could do little with it, shooting a miserable 2-for-14 in the first quarter.
A Joe Knoll shot just beat the first quarter buzzer to give Hillsboro a 7-6 lead.
Elias Werth scored a team-high 16 points, including a trio of threes, his second breaking an 11-11 tie with 4:39 remaining in the half.
Seven of Werth’s 16 came in less than 3 minutes, boosting the Trojans to a 25-17 lead by halftime after heating up to 54 percent from the floor and 44 for the game.
Darian Ratzlaff added 15 points, scoring 8 in 90 seconds, pushing Hillsboro’s lead to 33-22 nearly 2 minutes into the second half.
Larned hung around by using an 11-3 rally during another Hillsboro scoring lapse to pull within 37-35.
Hampered by foul trouble, Preston Loewen finally helped Hillsboro pull away the fourth quarter by scoring 6 consecutive points as the Trojans’ defense held the Indians to 17 percent shooting.
Hillsboro travels Friday to Haven for a meeting with the Wildcats.
Lady Trojans coach Nathan Hiebert will have his day in the sun. Unfortunately, it will have to come at a later date, given the offensive woes his team had against Larned.
That translated into a third consecutive defeat, with Larned using pressure defense to top Hillsboro (3-5), 46-26.
“We’ve got to get better,” a sullen Hiebert said. “The pressure bothered us tonight. We handled it a bit better the first half, but the second half we dropped our heads. We can’t do that. We just need to focus on getting stops and executing. The girls can do it.”
The Trojans got off on the wrong foot by going the first 3:11 without scoring and hitting a frigid 22 percent in the opening stanza.
With the Indians shooting a paltry 18 percent in the first quarter, Haley Skelton’s free throw with :28 left in the first quarter gave Larned a 7-6 lead.
The game turned into a free- throw shooting contest after that, as Hillsboro scored just five field goals the rest of the way on gruesome 18 percent shooting.
Before it was over, a total of 40 free throws had been attempted with the Trojans making 12 for 20.
The game began unraveling for Hillsboro in the second quarter. Larned outscored the Trojans 29-12 over the second and third quarters while holding the Trojans to just 9 percent from the field.
Even with its offensive struggles, Hillsboro was still in the game at halftime, trailing 21-12.
Sienna Kaufman scored a game-high 12 points as Hillsboro trimmed the deficit as low as 26-16 midway in the third quarter.
Larned’s 10-2 run after a scarce Trojans field goal all but did Hillsboro in, doubling them over 36-18 heading into the final stretch run that closed out the win for the Indians.