BOYS - Hillsboro seemed to take charge in their battle with Republic County by starting the second quarter with an 11-0 run that turned an 11-8 deficit into a 19-11 lead with 3:45 left in the first half. Brett Weinbrenner scored six of those points and Shaq Thiessen the other five. But the Buffaloes finished the last 1:38 of the quarter with a 7-0 run to pull to within a point at intermission.
The momentum swing carried into the third quarter. After Thiessen scored on a putback for Hillsboro, the Buffaloes surged back into the lead with a 6-2 burst over the next 1:47. The two teams finished the quarter with back-and-forth scoring until a free throw by Jesse Brown with 1.3 seconds left put the Trojans ahead at the break, 30-29.
A basket by Tyler Proffitt in the early moments of the fourth quarter boosted the lead to three points, but the Buffaloes suddenly became sharpshooters. A three by Jeff Hadachek and two-point baskets by Zach Brzon and Trevor Allen put Republic County on top, 36-33. Hillsboro tied the game at 36 with 3:55 to go on a free throw by Weinbrenner and a basket in the paint by Josh Wiebe. But Trenton Huhlman hit a three-pointer with 2:34 left that ignited an 8-2 burst that proved to be the difference in the game as Republic claimed a 44-38 advantage with a minute to go.
Hillsboro didn’t roll over. Wiebe scored off a steal by Weinbrenner with 37 seconds left. After the Buffaloes missed the front end of a one-and-one, Weinbrenner sank a long two-pointer with 2.5 seconds to play. Hillsboro called a quick timeout, then fouled Kuhlman with 1.1 seconds left to maintain a glimmer of hope. But Kuhlman drained both free throws to nail down the victory.
Weinbrenner finished with 16 points to lead the Trojans, who will take on Goodland in the consolation semifinals at 4:45 p.m. Friday. Goodland lost to the No. 1 seed Wamego, 68-23, earlier in the day. Hillsboro is now 6-5 for the season.
GIRLS - Hillsboro got off to a slow start in their game against No. 8 seed Thomas More Prep, managing a 12-8 lead on 4-for-13 shooting. When Erin Winter scored the next points of the game on a pair of free throws at the 6:24 mark of the second period, the Trojans began to pick up steam, riding an 18-7 surge to a 30-15 lead by halftime.
Not that the outcome ever in doubt, but Hillsboro lowered the boom in the third quarter, using their defensive pressure to score numerous transition baskets. Addie Lackey had three steals, two assists and seven points and Maci Schlehuber scored seven points as the Trojans inflated their lead to 52-22 as the quarter ended.
With the 30-point lead, the running clock kicked in for the fourth quarter, but the Trojans still pushed the lead from 30 to 40 points by the end of the contest.
Schlehuber broke out of a recent shooting slump to lead the Trojans with a career-high 20 points on 5-for-13 shooting from the floor and a perfect 8-for-8 at the free-throw line. Lackey finished an impressive all-around effort with 16 points, six steals and five assists. Tena Loewen added 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
As a team, Hillsboro shot 48 percent from the floor (24-50) while limiting TMP to 27 percent (8-29). The Trojan defense forced 24 turnovers while the offense committed only four.
Hillsboro (10-1) will face Hesston (11-0) in the championship semifinals at 8 p.m. Thursday. The Swathers defeated previously undefeated Holcomb in the first round on Monday, 59-50.