The Trojan girls came into Friday’s game at Hesston with a 5-0 record in the league and 15-1 overall, while the Swathers were second at 4-1 and 14-2. At the end of an intense defensive battle, the home team prevailed, 40-37.
For the boys, Hesston held the top spot at 5-0 and 14-2 while the Trojans were in second at 4-1 and 10-6. Hillsboro came within inches of knocking off the Swathers, but Hesston escaped with a 44-43 win.
GIRLS - It was clear from the start that Hesston was looking to avenge its 52-34 loss to Hillsboro during the Trojan Classic tournament in January. It was also clear early on that defense was going to be the dominant theme in this rematch.
Hillsboro led after one quarter, 9-7, but a three and half minute dry spell for the Trojans midway through the second period enabled the Swathers to take a 16-11 when Ashley Weaver hit a three-pointer at the 3:53 mark. By halftime, the Trojans had whittled the lead to 20-17.
A 6-2 surge in the final 2:12 of the third quarter enable Hesston to establish a 28-24 lead for the final period. Danae Bina hit a three-pointer 12 seconds into the fourth quarter, then baskets by Addie Lackey and Bina put Hillsboro on top, 31-30, with 5:08 to go.
But the Trojans faltered at that crucial point, committing turnovers on their next four possessions, then missing three straight shots. By then Hesston had another six-point lead at 37-31 with less than 30 seconds to play. Lackey finally broke the scoring drought for Hillsboro with a three at the 21-second mark.
The Trojan got another break when Hesston freshman Cami Richardson missed both free throws after a technical foul called on Christina Morris with 15.4 second to go. When Hesston put the ball in play again, Lackey fouled Richardson again with 14.7 seconds on the clock. This time the freshman iced both charities for a 39-34 lead.
Lackey missed a three at the other end, but Tena Loewen rebounded the shot and scored. She was fouled on the play and added the free throw to bring Hillsboro to within 39-37 with 6.4 seconds left.
The Trojans fouled Kelci Unruh on the inbounds play, but the sophomore made on of two free throws with 5.4 seconds showing. Loewen rebounded the miss and Hillsboro called a timeout with 3.9 seconds left. Needing a three-point basket to tie, the inbounds pass came to Bina, who stepped just inside the arc as she lofted a two-point shot at the buzzer — but the shot missed the mark anyway.
Lackey led the Trojans with 16 points and Loewen added nine.
BOYS – The casual fan might have given Hillsboro little chance against the Swathers, ranked No. 8 in Class 4A. And at times in the first half it seemed the Trojans might be on the edge of letting the game get away from them. Six points from Ryan Schadler in the last 3:16 of the first quarter — including a steal and a basket in the final second — put Hesston in charge at 14-5 at the first break.
But Hillsboro responded with perhaps its best offensive performance of the night during the first 4:30 of the second period, outscoring Hesston, 15-9, to pull to within 23-20. But the Swathers scored the last six points of the half to once again claim momentum at 29-20.
Hesston went to a zone defense to start the third quarter, and the switch seem to befuddle the Trojans at the start. But Brett Weinbrenner caught fire with three baskets over a two-minute stretch. Hesston still led, 33-26, but the Trojans seemed to find some confidence. But Hesston ended the quarter with a 5-2 surge to take a 41-31 lead into the final period.
Digging deep, Hillsboro started the fourth quarter with an 8-2 rally, fueled by four more points from Harry Faber and two each by Josh Wiebe and Weinbrenner. Weinbrenner’s points came on free throws after a technical foul was called on Hesston’s Tyler McCartney with 5:40 to play.
With Hesston leading, 43-39, neither team scored until Shaq Thiessen scored on a drive to the basket with 2:33 to go. After Hesston hit one of two free throws with 1:30 to play, Weinbrenner hit a 12-footer from the baseline with 1:04 left to pull Hillsboro to within one point at 44-43.
Hillsboro’s Jesse Brown got a crucial steal off an inbounds pass, but his layup attempt was blocked by Hesston’s 6-foot-6 Wyatt McKinney with 48 seconds left.
Hillsboro got the ball back once more with a chance to win. Weinbrenner got a shot off in the final second but it missed the mark and the Swathers escaped with the 44-43 win.
Faber and Weinbrenner each finished with 15 points to pace the Trojans.