Hillsboro girls and boys competed well against the No. 1 ranked teams in Class 3A, but Wichita Collegiate successfully defended its lofty status with wins over the Trojans Tuesday night in Wichita.
The Trojan boys put up the most competitive fight, losing 63-54 after hanging as close as four points with three minutes left in the contest. The Hillsboro girls, meanwhile, led the Spartans 13-7 after one quarter but couldn’t keep pace as the home team rallied for a relatively comfortable 55-40 victory in the end.
In the boys’ contest, Hillsboro appeared to be on the ropes early, trailing the Spartans 22-13 after one quarter. But the second quarter belonged to the Trojans, who outscored Collegiate 16-6 to take a 29-28 lead at halftime. Ben Bebermeyer came off the bench in that period to drain three 3-pointers, including two in the final minute to vault Hillsboro into the lead at the break.
Collegiate scored five points in the first 40 seconds of the third quarter to retake the lead for good. When David Loewen made one of two free-throws with 3:50 left in the quarter, HHS was still within two points, 38-36. But a traditional three-point play by Tre Bailey ignited an 11-0 run to boost the lead to 49-36 at the 1:12 mark. Hillsboro rallied with three free-throws from Loewen and a big 3-point basket at the buzzer by Michael Klaassen to trail by 10 at the final break, 52-42.
Both teams started the fourth quarter slowly on the offensive end, but Hillsboro pieced together a 6-0 run over a 4:44 span to pull within 52-48 after a basket by Jesse Allen.
Blake Jablonski countered with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to seven points. The game then took on a sober tone as Clay Shewey came down hard after somersaulting over the player he was defending under the Collegiate basket with 1:19 left on the clock. More than 20 minutes passed before Shewey was carted off the court by an EMT crew. HHS officials who were tending to him said after the game that they were confident that his injuries would not be debilitating.
In that environment, it was hard for either team to return to the competitive edge they had prior to the stoppage of play. Hillsboro was forced to foul to get the ball back and the Spartans made them pay by hitting eight straight charities to build their nine-point lead by the end of the contest.
Bebermeyer, who had 15 points in the first half, led the Trojans with 19 points while Loewen added 15 for the night. The loss dropped HHS to 12-7 for the year and 8-3 in league play while the Spartans remained perfect at 20-0 and 11-0.
In the girls’ contest, Hillsboro came out determined and effective against the favored home team. With the game tied at 5-5 with just 3:00 left in the opening quarter, Dakota Kaufman stepped up with three straight baskets and Allie Faul added a fourth as the Trojans charged to a 13-5 lead before Collegiate’s Ashia Woods scored with 24 seconds left to cut the lead to six points.
Unfortunately, the first quarter was the high-water mark for Hillsboro as Collegiate started the second quarter with a 16-0 run that finally ended when Frannie Gottsch scored at the 1:28 mark. Woods countered with six more points to push the lead to 29-15 before Cassie Kroeker swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer to narrow the lead to 11 at intermission.
The Trojans didn’t lay down in the second half. Three unanswered baskets by Kaufman over the first 3:34 of the third period cut the Spartan lead to 29-24. But another basket by Woods ignited an 8-0 run, and the third quarter ended with Collegiate leading 39-29.
When Faul started the final quarter with a 3-pointer, hope sprang anew for HHS. But a 10-0 Collegiate surge all but ended any realistic hope of an upset.
Kaufman finished as the Trojans’ leading scorer again, accumulating 22 points.
Woods, only a sophomore, showed why she’s considered one of the top players in the state by piling up 30 points and adding a gaggle of blocks and steals to boot.
The loss dropped Hillsboro’s record to 10-9 for the year and 5-6 in league play. Collegiate improved to 18-2 and 11-0.
While the Spartans now can look ahead to post-season play, Hillsboro has one more regular-season game left on Thursday. The Trojans will host Nickerson in a nonleague makeup game from back in December.