Trojans battle for title; girls settle for 6th
Boys outlast rival Hesston; girls post 1-2 finish
COVID continued wreaking havoc this past week, spoiling many of the area’s basketball tournaments or leaving teams shorthanded.
The Hillsboro boys’ basketball team was unaffected for the school’s Trojan Classic, staying perfect on the year, outlasting rival Hesston, 39-29, in Saturday’s title game.
The girls weren’t so lucky. The Trojans once again had to make do with key players sidelined for the second time in as many weeks.
That had plenty to do with the Hillsboro going 1-2 for the week, falling to Holcomb, 41-24, in Saturday’s fifth-place game.
The second-seed Trojans tumbled in the tournament opener to Hesston, 40-27, but rebounded Friday to top Riley County, 43-29.
Riley County had to forfeit its first-round game because of illness and played one game fewer than did other teams in the girls’ field.
Predicting that the title game would come down to the top-ranked defending state champions in Classes 2A and 3A was a safe bet.
Top spot in the Central Kansas League also was up for grabs.
The top-seeded Trojans opened the tournament demolishing undermanned eight-seed Eureka, 99-22, and rolled into Saturday’s final after up-ending fourth-seed Holcomb, 64-40, in Friday’s semifinals.
It won’t go down as one of the more exciting games rivals Hillsboro and Hesston have played, but defensive battles rarely are thrillers.
Hillsboro built a 15-8 lead after the first quarter and a 21-13 lead by halftime, limiting Hesston to frigid 22% shooting the first half, 25% for the game.
The Trojans kept the Swathers off the offensive glass, holding them to just five offensive rebounds and winning the rebounding battle, 33-22 — 8-5 offensively.
It wasn’t one of Hillsboro’s best shooting nights, either, hitting a modest 36% for the game, but the Swathers were facing an uphill climb the entire night.
The Swathers, paced by a team-high 14 from Cason Richardson, pulled as close as 31-26 heading into the final stretch, but Hillsboro put the game away with an 8-3 fourth quarter.
Brekyn Ratzlaff paced a balanced scoring attack with a game-high 16 points, including a trio of threes. Matt Potucek added nine, and Grayson Ratzlaff chipped in eight to lift Hillsboro to 12-0 on the year.
Coach Nathan Hiebert is probably one of many tired of COVID madness.
It’s taken its toll on his team in the last two weeks with his sophomore tandem of Savannah Shahan and Zaylee Werth missing games because of illness.
That could be part of the reason Hillsboro staggered through the tournament and never got on track Saturday against Holcomb.
More turnovers than field goals is an impossible number to win with, and Hillsboro’s meager seven field goals were 10 less than its turnover margin.
That, combined with gruesome 19% shooting, including 17% in the first half, made the Trojans sitting ducks against the Longhorns.
Werth was back in action, but Holcomb slowed her down, allowing just three points. Shahan scored a team-high nine.
The Trojans were hot on the Longhorns’ tail after the first quarter, down just 10-8, but Hillsboro couldn’t score more than eight points in any quarter and surrendered 33% shooting to Holcomb.
Makeena Reed added six points in the losing cause for the Trojans, who fall to 7-5 on the season.
Hillsboro will enjoy the remainder of the week off after Tuesday’s makeup game at Lyons.