Trojans start new year 3-1
Boys stay perfect; hex continues for girls
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Everybody gets a new start with the welcoming of the new year, but nothing has really changed much for the Hillsboro High School basketball teams.
The state’s top-ranked Trojan boys kept right on rolling, wrapping up a perfect week to remain unbeaten on the season with a 80-35 shellacking of Halstead on the road Friday night.
The girls won their first game of 2022, but the Halstead Dragons’ curse continued with a 60-54 victory Friday, foiling shorthanded Hillsboro’s chance at a perfect week.
Victories over Hutch-Trinity last Tuesday and Halstead on Friday pushed the boys to 8-0 while the Trojan girls dropped to 5-3.
It’s hard to believe the Dragons used to be a speed bump for Trojan coach Darrel Knoll. Halstead won a Class 3A state title in 2018.
“Used to” is the key phrase, however, as the Dragons have since fallen on hard times, posting three consecutive losing seasons.
The Trojans, meanwhile, have been weaving a wave of destruction everywhere they’ve gone this season, and it only took one quarter for the Dragons to become the latest casualty.
Hillsboro exploded out of the gate, racing to a 24-3 first quarter lead to take command of the game 39-14 by halftime.
More turnovers than field goals is a recipe for a disastrous basketball outing, and Halstead’s 30 blunders were 17 more than its 13 baskets, despite shooting 53% the second half.
The Trojans played perhaps their best quarter in the third, breaking the game open with a 29-13 burst behind blazing 68% shooting in the second half, 53% for the game. Hillsboro led by as many as 55 with 5:39 to go on a running clock.
Matt Potucek and Grayson Ratzlaff combined to outscore Halstead, with game-high 21 points apiece. Brekyn Ratzlaff added 13 more points as five other Trojans took part in the destruction.
After hosting Hoisington on Tuesday, Hillsboro will travels west Friday to Lyons.
You’d have to go back nearly six years to the last time Nathan Hiebert has beaten the Dragons.
That was when the Trojans outlasted Halstead 40-39 on Jan. 15, 2016. The Dragons have dominated the series since.
The Trojans got no favors with one of their key players, sophomore Savannah Shahan, sidelined by illness. Still, Hillsboro had opportunities to snap the six-year Dragon curse.
That won’t happen if you can’t take care of the basketball, however, and 23 turnovers, combined with an inability to deal with a swarming Dragon defense and pressure, saw to it Hillsboro’s woes continued.
The Trojans carried on in Shahan’s absence with Zaylee Werth scoring a team-high 16 points, and Reese Hefley and Emersyn Funk pitching in 12 points each.
Hillsboro controlled the first half, stretching the lead as deep as 12 en route to opening a 38-28 lead by halftime, holding Halstead to 29% shooting.
The game fishtailed on the Trojans in the second half, however. Halstead’s Dominique Schutte got hot, burning Hillsboro for a game-high 23 points.
The Dragons shot only 39% the second half, 33% for the game, but doubled Hillsboro in scoring, 32-16, while building a 12-point lead late in the game.
The Trojans’ miseries taking care of the ball thwarted them from getting closer than two possessions.