The Hillsboro basketball teams split their games at Nickerson on Friday night.
For the second straight game, the Trojan girls lost a close game to one of the top teams in the league, falling on the short end of a 41-38 score.
Meanwhile, the boys got off to a strong start and managed to hold off the Panthers by a 54-44 final score.
In the girls’ game, Nickerson jumped to a 5-0 start, but Allie Faul responded with a 2-point and 3-point basket over the span of 27 seconds to tie the game. That set the tone for the evening, as the Panthers would appear to take a lead only to have the Trojans battle back into contention.
Nickerson led 11-10 after one quarter and 22-19 at the half. The Panthers bumped the lead to 26-20 and seemed to have momentum, but Hillsboro put together a 7-0 run to go ahead. Nickerson scored the last four points of the period to lead 32-29 at the final break.
Again in the fourth quarter, Nickerson extended its lead to six, 35-29, but Hillsboro battled back into a 37-37 tie with 2:00 to play. A basket and two free throws by Nickerson gave them a 41-38 led with 24 seconds to go. Hillsboro twice had chances to tie it, but the 3-point attempts by Faul just missed the mark.
Dakota Kaufman led HHS with 16 points while Faul and Kassidi Luthi each added nine points as the Trojans dropped to 8-8 for the year and 3-5 in the league. Nickerson improved to 11-5 and 6-2.
In the boys’ game, Hillsboro forced 10 Nickerson turnovers in the first quarter and built a 9-2 lead by the time buzzer sounded. Nickerson composed itself in the second period, but the Trojans still managed to extended the lead to 25-12 at the half.
Seven points by Daniel Jost in the third period helped HHS push the lead to 36-21 at the final break.
Nickerson managed to trim the lead to nine points with 3:22 to go, but Jesse Allen scored on a drive to the basket and Nickerson was called for a foul on the play, but away from the ball. HHS retained possession and David Loewen then scored in the paint on a feed by Ben Bebermeyer. The burst seemed to let the air of Nickerson’s momentum and the Trojans went on to post a gritty victory.
Jost finished with a team-high 21 and Loewen was right behind with 19 as the Trojans improved to 10-6 and 6-2 while Nickerson dropped to 7-9 and 2-6.