The Hillsboro High School boys overcame deficits against undefeated Republic County, but ran out of gas at the end as the Buffaloes advanced to the championship game of the Trojan Classic on Friday with 52-42 win.
Republic County jumped to a 9-2 lead after hitting its first four field goals out of the gate. But the Trojans, combining the inside play of David Loewen and the outside shooting of Clay Shewey, responded with a 15-5 surge to take a 17-14 lead at the first break.
The two teams battled evenly early in the second period, but four Trojan turnovers contributed to a 13-4 Buffalo stampede over the final 5:00 that vaulted RCHS into a 33-25 lead at intermission.
Even though HHS missed seven of its first eight shots to open the second half, the Trojans reduced a 39-28 deficit in the final three minutes of the third quarter to a 41-33 margin at the final break.
But Hillsboro wasn’t through. When Clay Shewey drained a 3-pointer at the 3:56 mark of the fourth quarter, Hillsboro was within three points at 45-42. But that proved to be the last score for the Trojans, who missed their last eight shots of the game, and Republic County pushed the lead back to double digits at the end.
Shewey contributed his best night of the season, scoring 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting, including 4-for-7 behind the arc. Loewen completed a double-double for HHS with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Colton Grove, a 5-foot-11 guard, dissected the Trojan defense for 19 points to lead Republic County, who will take on Hesston in the championship game on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Hillsboro will take on Thomas More Prep for third place on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
The Hillsboro girls, meanwhile, will battle Marion for third place in the girls’ bracket. Their game begins at 2:45.