Boys can’t convert at right times in loss to Sterling, 56-49
The Hillsboro High School boys’ basketball team took its first lead Friday against Sterling, 36-35, four possessions into the fourth quarter.
Guard Shaq Thiessen knocked down two free throws for the slim advantage after Christian Ratzlaff canned a 3-pointer on the previous possession.
But after grabbing the lead, the Trojans could not take advantage of fourth-quarter scoring opportunities. They lost the game, 56-49.
Forward Christian Ratzlaff had an open look at a corner three that would have given the Trojans a 4-point edge.
Point guard Brett Weinbrenner just missed a tough layup between Sterling defenders that would have made it a 1-point Sterling advantage.
Forward Jesse Allen hit a three and four free throws to bring the Trojans within five, 50-45. Allen was tied as Hillsboro’s leading scorer with 10 points.
Allen passed a ball that backspun along the baseline to Thiessen while he was falling out-of-bounds. Thiessen converted the miraculous pass into a bucket and Hillsboro was down, 50-47.
On the next possession, Allen delivered an equally good, but more traditional, bounce pass to Thiessen cutting down the center of the paint. Thiessen had a few inches of daylight between a defender but could not sneak the ball into the hoop.
“I don’t blame the guys for missing shots,” head coach Darrel Knoll said. “But we make that one and we’re right in that game.”
Hitting their free-throw opportunities, Sterling was able to hold on for the win.
Knoll praised his team’s ability to comeback in the game; the Trojans had to climb out of a 13-point hole they dug into at the end of the first half, 24-11.
Sterling took advantage of rushed Hillsboro shots, 3-pointers after just one pass, to score on contested lay-ups at the other end of the floor.
“It’s been a trend for us to come out flat in the first half,” Knoll said. “It was way too much one-on-one stuff. I think we would all make plays better if we screened for one another and cut hard.”
Knoll credited the Sterling offense with its spacing and tenacity on drives.
“They put their heads down and went hard,” Knoll said. “All their guys were able to convert.”
However, the lights turned on for the Hillsboro offense in the third quarter, with the inside play of Josh Wiebe and long-distance game of gunners Ratzlaff and Weinbrenner.
Wiebe started the quarter with a put back on an offensive board. Ratzlaff drained a three. Wiebe continued by hitting a right-handed hook shot over taller defender, Austin Maxwell. Wiebe consistently attacked the Sterling big men, scoring 10 points, tied for the most for Hillsboro. He also had the most rebounds with six.
“We need to remember to keep going to him,” Knoll said.
Consecutive treys by Ratzlaff and Weinbrenner brought the score to 28-24 with 4:02 left in the third. With another Weinbrenner three, and free throws and a layup from Thiessen, the Trojans were within two, 33-31.
Knoll said it was nice that Ratzlaff and Weinbrenner found their shooting strokes against Sterling. Both guards had struggled to hit from the outside in previous contests. They both scored 9 points.
Knoll also pointed out that Luke Moore and Evan Ollenburger provided quality play from a role player perspective. Both guards were generous with setting screens for other scorers and hustled on both ends of the floor.
“We’re going to be in the hunt down the stretch,” Knoll said. “We can score more points than we’re scoring.”