Trojans teams capture Moundridge titles
Hoops teams sweep tournament
Four games into the young season, Lady Trojans coach Nathan Hiebert won’t be talking about how quick his team is out of the gate to start games.
What he can talk about is how to bounce back from being soundly defeated in the season opener in two days to reel off three consecutive wins in the grueling Moundridge Preseason Tournament.
The Trojans ran through the tournament unbeaten, fighting off feisty Inman Friday in Moundridge for a 42-34 win.
With respective 41-33 and 40-39 victories over the host Lady Wildcats and Lyons, Hillsboro is off to a quick 3-1 start to the season.
“We have the potential where it won’t be so close, but when you’re dealing with a group that’s so young, we’re giving ourselves a chance to win,” Hiebert said. “I was really pleased we were able to finish.”
It took a while for both the Trojans and Lady Teutons to get going after Sienna Kaufman scored the game’s first basket just over 1 minute in for a 2-0 Hillsboro lead.
But that was the last basket scored by either team for over 4:00, with the two combining for a blustery 3-for-13 from the floor and 14 turnovers.
Mistakes hampered the Teutons more than the Trojans, with Hillsboro taking advantage of a 13-2 edge in points off turnovers by forcing Inman into 26.
Shooting 1-for-11 the first quarter, the Trojans were trailing 5-3 heading into the second sequence.
That wasn’t much better, but the Trojans warmed up to 31 percent by halftime after a 4-of-13 second quarter and finished at 30 percent on the night.
The Trojans couldn’t extend the lead any further than three with the two juggling the lead many times in the closing 4:52 of the half.
Rachel Harman’s free throw with 3 seconds left sent the Teutons in at the break with a 15-14 lead.
Inman’s lead would grow to 21-14 before Kaufman sparked an 11-0 run, which overtook the Teutons, 25-21, with 1:50 remaining in the third frame.
Abby Sechrist’s basket at 1:39 into the fourth quarter broke a 27-27 tie and fueled a 9-2 burst that gave the Trojans some breathing room, 36-29, with 3:30 to go.
Sechrist and Kaufman combined for 24 points with a game-high 12 each and freshman Teegan Werth added 11.
A free throw by Kaufman with 30 seconds left made it a three-possession game for Inman with the Trojans using 6-for-10 from the free-throw line to put the game away the final 1:21.
The Trojans could’ve mailed the game in sooner, as 7-for-17 shooting at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter kept Inman in their rear-view mirror.
The Lady Trojans travel Friday to Gypsum for a 6 p.m. tipoff against Southeast of Saline.
Through three games of the season, there’s one thing the Trojans boys have yet to see — an inside presence such as the Teutons’ Mason Thiessen.
At 6-8, Thiessen poses a threat not only inside, but he also can drop out and hit the three if he needs to.
Then again, the same may be said for Inman not seeing a team quite like the Trojans and Darian Ratzlaff.
Thiessen had a monster double-double night of 25 points and 17 rebounds, but the Trojans overcame a slow third quarter to capture the Moundridge tournament title with a 61-51 win.
“We’ll go back and look at film on how we can defend him better if we play him again,” Trojans coach Darrel Knoll said. “He’s pretty big inside, but he was contested most of the time.”
Even with Thiessen’s six offensive rebounds permitting an easy 37-28 win, the Trojans yielded just 9 second-chance points.
The victory boosts Hillsboro to 4-0 on the year after posting 52-51 and 73-52 wins against the host Wildcats and Lyons, respectively.
Ratzlaff scored a team-high 24 points, including four three’s —the first giving the Trojans a 13-7 lead nearly 6:00 into the game.
A free throw by Thiessen with 40 seconds left in the opening quarter pulled Inman as close as it would get, 13-9, heading into the second frame.
The Trojans caught fire the second quarter and pushed the lead to double digits behind a blistering 9-of-11 shooting.
A barrage of three’s by Ratzlaff, Elias Werth, and Brodie Rathbone’s buzzer beater stretched the Trojans’ lead as far as 15 by halftime, 38-23, with Thiessen supplying all but 7 of Inman’s points.
Hillsboro finished the game shooting 45 percent from the floor and a scalding 53 percent from behind the arc with the tandem of Werth and Ratzlaff combining for 7-for-12 outside.
Inman extinguished Hillsboro’s fire in the third quarter, holding the Trojans to a miserable 2-of-15 shooting, with all 8 points courtesy of Ratzlaff.
With the game in jeopardy of slipping out of the Teutons’ grasp, Hillsboro went scoreless the closing 3:17 of the third quarter, allowing Inman to pull to 46-35 to start the fourth quarter.
“We may have been a little fatigued, but I think more than anything when you get a 17-18 point lead, early in the season it’s hard to maintain the focus that got us there,” Knoll said.
“It wasn’t that we weren’t playing hard, we just weren’t as sharp all the way around. We’re playing good team basketball right now and I was pleased with our tournament overall.”
Werth finished with 15 points, but foul trouble allowed Inman’s perimeter assault of Payton Froese and Jordan Friesen to get more involved.
The duo combined for 20 points, but the Teutons died by the three, shooting a brutal 14 percent on 3-for-21 and 35 overall.
Last modified Dec. 14, 2017