With the Trojans trailing 26-24 after suffering through three straight turnovers, Shaq Thiessen hit a deep three-point shot at the top of the key with 3:01 left in the third period. It turned out to be a game-changer. After Lyons missed a shot on its end, Thiessen hit a second three seconds later. Thiessen then forced a Lion turnover, and Harry Faber got into the act with a three-point basket from the wing with 1:14 to go.
Suddenly, Hillsboro was up, 33-26. After Lyons scored, Thiessen added a 15-foot basket with four seconds left to give Hillsboro a 35-28 lead at the end of the quarter.
The Trojans continued to play with sharper focus in the fourth quarter. Lyons’ Matthew Vincent scored 12 seconds in, but Josh Wiebe completed a three-point play on a basket and foul in the paint, then Brett Weinbrenner scored on a reverse layup about two minutes later to give Hillsboro a 40-30 lead with 5:38 to go.
At that point, the Trojans began draining the clock and eventually the game turned into a foul-fest as the Lions tried to get the Trojans into the one-and-one. Once achieved, Hillsboro made five of its next six free throws to secure the win.
The Trojans actually got off to a solid start, and led 11-7 after one quarter. Hillsboro maintained a small lead until literally the final second of the half when Vincent lofted a desperation shot from just inside the halfcourt line. The shot hit nothing but net and gave Lyons a 21-20 advantage at intermission.
Weinbrenner finished as high-point man for Hillsboro with 15 points, but Faber and Thiessen were close behind with 13 apiece. As a team, the Trojans shot 55 percent (18-38) in the second half compared to 40 percent (8-20) in the first half. Lyons shot 28 percent (12-43) for the game.
With the win, Hillsboro improves to 13-8 for the season and will play Haven (13-8) in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Lyons finishes the season at 10-11. Earlier in the evening, Haven defeated Halstead, 51-45, and Marion defeated Hutch Trinity, 56-31. Marion (16-5) will play Sacred Heart (13-8) in the other semifinal game at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
In the girls’ bracket, Hillsboro will play Southeast of Saline in the semifinals at 6 p.m.