For the first 20 minutes of the contest, the Trojans went toe to toe with Hesston, who came in ranked third in Class 4A at 10-1. When David Loewen scored in the post with 3:48 left in the third quarter, the Trojans, who trailed 28-26 at halftime, were down by only four points, 37-33.
Hesston managed only four more points through the end of the quarter. But Hillsboro missed all five of its shots and turned the ball over three times as the Swathers took a 41-33 margin into the final period.
Hillsboro’s scoring drought continued into the fourth quarter until Daniel Jost scored in the paint off a feed from Clay Shewey with 4:08 to go.
Hesston, which had managed only three free-throws over that span, led 44-35, and was able to maintain that margin down the stretch.
“In the second half, we missed some shots we would normally make,” said Hillsboro coach Darrel Knoll. “But I thought we shot ourselves out of the game a little bit in the third quarter. There was a lot of one-pass-and-shoot business.
“Once we got behind, they are just too good to play catch-up against. But I thought we competed to the very end. This may have been as tough as we’ve played all year.”
In an otherwise statistical standoff, Hesston out-rebounded Hillsboro, 32-19, which contributed to a 10-2 advantage in second-chance points.
“I thought we played really hard on defense,” Knoll said. “For the most part we took care of the boards, but they got some on us because they were just more physical. As the game progressed, they got more of those.”
Jost, who scored 10 points for Hillsboro in the first half, finished with 14 to take scoring honors for the second straight game. Loewen added 10, with nine coming in the second half.
Hesston, meanwhile, had three players in double digits, led by John Reimer with 11 and 10 each by Moore and Alex Roth.
The loss was Hillsboro’s first in league play and dropped their overall record to 8-6. Hesston, improving to 11-1, maintained its share of first place with Collegiate at 5-0.
Haven—Timely 3-point shooting fueled Hillsboro’s 66-49 win at Haven on Tuesday night.
The Trojans got three straight 3-pointers from Gavin Serene at the start of the game and one from Daniel Jost that accounted for Hillsboro’s 12-6 lead in the first five minutes.
Clay Shewey added two more bombs in the final minute of the quarter, including one with a second left and a defender in his face, to put the Trojans ahead 20-15 at the break.
Hillsboro’s shooting stuttered to 5-for-14 in the second quarter, but a traditional three-point play by Jost with 20 seconds left gave the Trojans a 31-24 lead at halftime.
The Trojans pushed the lead to 35-24 early in the third quarter, but back-to-back baskets by Haven’s Cory Hatchel sparked a 9-0 run the closed the gap to two points with 4:24 left in the period.
Shewey rediscovered success from behind the arc with 2:14 to play in the period. Jost then hit three straight treys in the final 1:18—including a capper from behind the halfcourt line as the buzzer sounded—to lift the Trojans back to 48-41 advantage heading into the final quarter.
The Trojans finished the game by scoring its final 18 points inside the arc—eight at the free-throw line—while holding the Wildcats to eight points on 3-for-13 shooting.
“I was pleased that when the game was in the balance, we came out and took charge in the beginning of the fourth quarter,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “I thought we played a pretty smart game down the stretch.”
Two Trojans contributed career performances. Jost finished with 24 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the floor, including four of five 2-point attempts. He also canned eight of 11 free throws.
“We’ve been talking to him for a little while now about being more of a threat, that’s he’s got to start thinking about scoring some points,” Knoll said. “Tonight he did. You could tell he was looking to shoot rather than shooting as an afterthought. When he shot the ball, he really shot it.”
Serene, meanwhile, added 15 points, including three 3-pointers in five attempts. The 5-foot-7 senior also pulled down seven rebounds.
Also scoring in double figures for Hillsboro was Clay Shewey with 13 points. Loewen finished nine points and as many rebounds.
Coming—Hillsboro was schedule to square off Tuesday against league co-leader Wichita Collegiate (10-1, 5-0), the top-ranked team in Class 3A.
On Friday, the Trojans will travel to Sterling to take on the last-place Black Bears (3-11, 0-5).