• Last modified 1189 days ago (March 11, 2021)


Trojans march to state semifinals

Hillsboro boys on way to Manhattan; Trojan girls, Peabody, Centre and Goessel end seasons

Marion county’s basketball teams vied for their shot at state this past week during sub-state tournaments.

Hillsboro High boys team is on its way to Manhattan after scoring a 63-47 win over Belle Plaine in the quarterfinals.

The team faced the Dragons Monday after surviving Hutchinson’s Trinity Catholic Saturday in sub-state.

They were aided by Breckyn Ratzlaff who sank an overtime buzzer-beater in Ell-Saline to clinch a 49-47 victory over the Celtics.

Hillsboro will face the top-ranked Lyndon Tigers at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Hillsboro High’s girls team was disappointed with a 36-30 sub-state loss against Moundridge at Ell-Saline Saturday.

Peabody-Burns High suffered a 51-47 loss Friday to Central Plains Oilers in overtime after a nail-biting battle for a shot at the championship.

The season was a record for the Warriors, who scored victory in sub-state for the first time in six or seven years and was ranked in the top 10.

Centre High School’s girls ended their season Friday with a 37-16 loss to Elyria Christian High in the semifinals of sub-state tournament at Peabody-Burns.

Goessel High’s girls and boys teams both ended their season Friday with losses to Little River High School in semifinals at Canton. The girls came closer, but lost 49-34. Final score for the boy’s team was 53-38

Hillsboro boys steamroll way to Manhattan

Trojan boys coach Darrel Knoll was perfectly aware of how dangerous Monday night’s opponent, the visiting Belle Plaine Dragons, were in the quarterfinal round of the Class 2A basketball tournament. 

The Dragons can put up a flurry of points in a hurry with the sharpshooting duo of guard Eli Wiseman, and wing Austin Hilton, and have the quickness to cause headaches for opponents on both sides of the ball. 

The Trojans can do a good job of that themselves, and they’ve got the defense to disrupt the offensive flow and force turnovers. 

The Dragons found that out firsthand with the Hillsboro defense extinguishing their fire, rolling to a 63-47 win to advance to Manhattan’s semifinals Thursday at Bramlage Coliseum. 

Hillsboro will face the top-ranked and top-seed Lyndon Tigers at 7 p.m. Thursday.

“What a tremendous team defensive effort tonight,” Knoll said. “We had several steals the first half and we did a great job containing drives and contesting shots. We got solid minutes from everyone who played tonight.”

Outside of taking a 5-0 lead in the first minute of the contest, courtesy of Hilton’s game-high 26 points, it was all Hillsboro the rest of the way. 

Wiseman finished with 11, but the Dragons were out of striking distance by the time he got going. 

That was from Brekyn Ratzlaff harassing him all night until Wiseman fouled out late in the game on 4-of-19 from the field. 

Hillsboro used a 20-2 run to open a 30-13 lead by halftime shooting 42 percent from the floor, 48 for the game, leaving the Dragons in grave danger.

Matt Potucek scored a team-high 18 points, and Grayson Ratzlaff added 14 while pulling down a game-best 9 rebounds to give Hillsboro a 38-26 win rebounding. 

But when the going got tough, the Trojans got a big lift from bench play of Duncan Duell and Frank Wichert, who combined for 11 to keep the Trojans at least three possessions in front. 

  Hillsboro stretched its lead as far as 35-13 just over 2:00 into the second half before Hilton ended a scoring lapse, which lasted over 5 minutes. 

The Dragons cut the lead as close as 11 late in the third quarter, but Hillsboro came up with the baskets needed to ward them off. 

Belle Plaine narrowly outdid the Trojans 34-33 the second half, however, the ceiling had fallen in on the Dragons the first half. 

The victory pushed the Trojans to 20-4 on the season. 

Hillsboro advanced to the quarterfinals with Brekyn beating the buzzer with a last-minute heroic shot in the title game of Saturday’s Ell-Saline sub-state for a 49-47 win over Hutch-Trinity.

Hillsboro girls net 2nd place sub-state finish

Beating the Moundridge Wildcats in basketball has never been an easy task for either of Hillsboro’s basketball teams. 

Be it the boys or girls, the Trojans almost always have their hands full with Moundridge.

The girls had to dig down deep in the second game of the season back in December to survive a 48-46 scare in the Moundridge pre-season tournament en route to winning the title. 

But there’s one thing that’s never been easy for Hillsboro to come by — posting consistency shooting the basketball.  

Sure the Trojans’ 19-4 record is the best in eight years, however, shooting much more than 30 percent from the floor has been a lot to ask for years. 

It was pivotal a year ago in Hillsboro falling one win short of making the Class 2A state tournament, tripping in the sub-state title game against Bennington. 

The Trojans renewed their acquaintances with the Wildcats Saturday, this time with a ticket to the quarterfinal round of the state tournament on the line in the final game of the Ell-Saline sub-state.

History repeated itself with a frigid 15 percent shooting, combined with 17 turnovers proving fatal for the Trojans in a 36-30 season-ending loss.  

So ends the road for the Trojans’ senior quintet of Teegan Werth, Kinsey Kleiner, Dani Klein, Jessica Saunders, and Tuesday Weisbeck. 

“These girls did a great job and have a lot to be proud of, but it was still hard because this is not where they wanted to finish,” Hillsboro coach Nathan Hiebert said.

“Our seniors have put in a lot of time and sweat for this team and I am thankful for them. They will be missed.”

The Trojans were on the Wildcats’ tail all night, however, insufficient firepower never allowed Hillsboro to get over the hump. 

Moundridge stretched its lead as far as 9 the first half, but Hillsboro was still within range by halftime, 19-17, despite 20 percent shooting. 

The Wildcats were hardly hot themselves, hitting 25 percent the second half and 30 for the game, however, they kept getting the ball inside to 6-1 post Kate Eichelburger, who stung the Trojans for a game-high 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting. 

The Werth sisters of freshman Zaylee and Teegan combined for 16 points paced by Zaylee’s 9, while Kleiner added 6. 

  Peabody-Burns ends season with loss in overtime

Friday marked the end of a historic season for the Peabody-Burns Warriors in the semifinal round of their own sub-state. 

The Warriors ended the season at 12-8, tumbling to the eventual runner-up, Central Plains Oilers, in a 51-47 overtime heart-wrencher. 

Still coach Bob Kyle was proud of what the team accomplished.

“I couldn’t tell you the last time we were ranked,” Kyle said in an email after the game. “It was the first time in six or seven years we won a sub-state game.”

He said the Warriors learned that playing together is the most important part of any game this season.

“I think our proudest part of the season is that we finished with a winning record,” he said, adding that he still did not have stats from Friday night because he had yet to watch the film.

The Oilers were eliminated Saturday by state qualifier, Elyria Christian. 

The Warriors will return 10 players from this year’s team next year.

“We are looking forward to next season,” he said.

Centre girls end season on a down note

Three Centre seniors — Cailey Barney, Alyssa Espinoza, and Samantha Espinoza — completed their high school basketball careers Friday in the semifinals of the sub-state tournament at Peabody-Burns.

Centre lost to Elyria, 37-16.

“When you play Elyria Christian, it is almost always a slow-style game with patience on offense and an aggressive defense,” coach Alan Stahlecker said. “While we were able to get the ball into the front court without great difficulty, it was difficult to get into our offense.”

The Cougars had a season-high 29 turnovers and took 22 shots for the entire game.

In just four baskets from the field, Samantha Espinoza scored 7 points and made five of six free throws, Alyssa Espinoza scored 6 points, and Lili Espinoza, 2. Samantha and Lili Espinoza were leading rebounders with six apiece.

Carly Deines played for the first time in a month and had four steals. Alyssa and Samantha Espinoza each had three steals.

After getting a late start on the season, Centre finished with a record of 5-10.

Goessel girls nearly pull off surprise win

Goessel came close in the third quarter, but lost the semifinal game at Canton in the 1A Div 1 Substate by a final score of 49-34.

Little River played tight defense on Goessel’s senior point guard Elizabeth Schmucker, and so the Bluebirds had to figure out a way to bring the ball down the court as a team.

Although the taller Redskins had a definite advantage in the rebounding game, the Bluebirds consistently figured out a way to break the full court press.

Little River scored from close range to jump out to a 24-6 lead with just over two minutes to play in the first half. But then Goessel began to chip away at the deficit. Kaleigh Guhr swished a three-pointer and then a free-throw.

Goessel broke the full court pressure and Elizabeth Schmucker hit a running layup. Guhr finished another layup and Goessel went into half-time trailing 27-14.

The Redskins scored three points, swelling their lead to 16 points to start the third quarter.

Guhr answered with a three-pointer, Schmucker scored on a running jumper and Guhr hit another three-pointer. Emily Flaming scored on an inbounds play before Schmucker hit another three-pointer and Goessel had reduced an 18 point deficit to five points against the fifth ranked team in the state. Little River scored four points to lead 36-27 at the end of three periods.

Field goals would not fall for the Bluebirds in the fourth quarter as they connected on five free-throws.

The Redskins increased their lead to 17 points when Jaicee Griffin connected on a layup to end the game with a Goessel loss 49-34.

Scoring for the Bluebirds: Kaleigh Guhr 14 (season best), Elizabeth Schmucker 9, Emily Flaming 5, Bethany Herrel 4 and Jaicee Griffin 2. The Goessel girls season ended with a record of 6-15.

Goessel boys season ends in semifinals

Just too many weapons from Little River prevented the Bluebirds from gaining any traction in the 1A Div 1 Substate semifinal game on Friday.

Little River jumped out to an 8-0 lead, but Goessel only trailed 14-11 at the end of the first quarter. The Redskins hit 11 consecutive points to start the second quarter and maintained a 14 point lead at half-time.

In order to fight back from a 19 point deficit, the Bluebirds needed scoring and the production came from Jake Hiebert, Skyler Wuest, Caiden Duerksen and Eddie Gaeddert. With 5:38 to play in the game, Nate Zogleman hit two free-throws to get as close as 37-47.

The Bluebirds would only get one free-throw to fall for the rest of the game as Little River (the #1 team in the state) would exit the gym with a 58-38 victory.

Scoring for the Bluebirds: Caiden Duerksen 8, Jake Hiebert 8, Nate Zogleman 7, Skyler Wuest 7, Dawson Stutzman 4, Luke Wiens 2, and Eddie Gaeddert 2.

Five seniors ended their Bluebird careers with a record of 14-7: Nate Zogleman, Eddie Gaeddert, Luke Wiens, Dawson Stutzman and Jake Hiebert.

Both the Little River boys and girls advanced to the state tournament with wins on Saturday.



Last modified March 11, 2021