Good things happened for Hillsboro when center Josh Wiebe touched the ball Friday against Nickerson, a 38-30 Hillsboro victory.
Wiebe did his best work in the second half. In the third quarter, he had a bounce-pass assist to Micah Allen. He hit a hook shot on a post up. He forced a foul at the top of the key. He then hit another post-up hook shot, this time spinning to his right up over the defender.
“He’s become a better passer,” head coach Darrel Knoll said of Wiebe’s game. “He’s making better decisions.”
To start the fourth, he hit a hook shot in the middle of the lane. He then forced a foul on a layup attempt, although he could not convert at the line. Two possessions later, he had two offensive rebounds and nearly completed an assist to Jesse Brown, who was fouled and subsequently sank both free throws. That offensive output allowed Hillsboro to take a 32-25 lead with 2 minutes, 9 seconds left in the game. Wiebe had 16 points, 7 rebounds, an assist, and a steal in the game. He shot 6-of-13 from the field.
“They were in a triangle and two all night,” Wiebe said. “It was hard for Shaq (Thiessen) and Brett (Weinbrenner) to get shots. If they were going to let me shoot, I’m going to take what the defense gives me.”
One important stat for Wiebe was only picking up three personal fouls in the game. Being the Trojans only true big man, Wiebe said he has had to change the way he has played. He said he still wants to play aggressive defense but without physically challenging attacking players on their way to the rim. He walked that line beautifully on Friday, only picking up his third foul in the fourth quarter.
Wiebe’s night offensively partially obscured what was a defensive struggle for Hillsboro. The Trojans only shot 30.4 percent from the floor and were 0-of-4 from 3-point range. Wiebe said the Trojans may have to get used to winning ugly offensive games.
What will allow Hillsboro to win those games is playing solid defense. The Trojans only allowed Nickerson to shoot 28.2 percent from the floor and won the rebounding battle, 22-15. What has made a difference for Hillsboro over a three game winning streak to start 2013 is the front-line defense of Wiebe, Harry Faber, and Tyler Proffitt.
Proffitt began the season injured but since he returned against Pratt on Jan. 4 he has provided the Trojans with length and athleticism at the small forward spot. Proffitt had six rebounds and three steals on Friday. Faber had seven boards. Having three players capable of challenging shots has allowed Weinbrenner and Thiessen to apply even more pressure on the wings.
Knoll is not quite ready to give up on offense just yet. Only four Trojans connected from the field on Friday — Wiebe, Thiessen, Proffitt, and Faber. Weinbrenner had six points on 6-of-8 shooting from the free-throw line. Knoll said there were several missed layups and other easy opportunities that were missed.
“We’re working enough to get good shots; we’re moving the ball so well,” Knoll said. “We rushed it when we had open looks.”
Thiessen was one of the few who converted his layup opportunities for most of 10 points. He had one spectacular play where he caught a pass in mid-air from Brett Weinbrenner while on a fast break. He found himself under the basket but somehow was able to catch, jump, and wrap his left arm around the hoop to lay the ball in all in one fluid motion with a defender attempting to block the shot.
“His athleticism is insane,” Wiebe said. “His ability to finish shots no one else can make is amazing.”