Trojans endure rough first quarter, fall by one.
It was somehow fitting that the Hillsboro boys ended an “if only” season with an “if only” 44-43 loss to Haven in the final seconds of Friday’s sub-state semifinals.
Hillsboro, who lost five games during the regular season by a margin of four points or less, overcame a 20-8 first-quarter deficit to lead by as much as 41-35 after three quarters. But victory proved to be elusive one last time.
Haven made about everything it threw up in the first quarter to build that 20-8 lead.
“Everything they did went their way, and we missed layups in the first part of the game when we were just pressing too hard,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “If we make a couple of those, it’s a totally different game.”
But Hillsboro energized the home crowd with a 12-2 run through the first 3:34 of the second quarter to pull within two points at 22-20.
After Haven bumped the lead back to six, a pair of free throws by Jesse Brown and a huge three-point basket at the buzzer by Evan Ollenburger pulled the Trojans to within a point at 26-25 as the half ended.
Hillsboro carried the momentum into the third quarter. When Shaq Thiessen scored near the rim with 4:38 left in the quarter, Hillsboro enjoyed its first lead of the game at 32-31.
Brett Weinbrenner followed that with a pair of free throws and a nice drive-and-basket to give the Trojans a 36-31 bulge with 3:27 left. Hillsboro maintained the six-point edge as the quarter ended at 41-35.
Hillsboro started the final quarter with two missed shots and two turnovers with its first four possessions. Meanwhile, Haven scored a basket and three free throws to pull within a point.
After Ollenburger made one of two free throws, Haven got baskets by Timothy Hendrixson and Trae Regier to regain the lead at 44-42 with 2:05 to play.
Hillsboro traded two missed three-point shots for two Haven turnovers over the next 1:30 before Ollenburger made one of two free throws with 28.3 seconds left to pull Hillsboro to within one at 44-43.
Haven’s Luke Johnson had a chance to pad the lead when he was fouled off the inbounds play, and went to the line with a one-and-one opportunity. But Johnson missed everything on the first free throw, giving Hillsboro the ball with an opportunity to regain the lead. But an errant pass with 6.8 seconds left put the ball back in Haven’s hands.
Hillsboro fouled the Wildcats’ Jacob Newcomer with 4.2 seconds left. Newcomer missed the first free throw on the one-and-one, giving the Trojans one last hope—but it ended as a final heave toward the basket missed the mark at the buzzer.
“We knew we needed four solid quarters to win this game tonight,” Knoll said. “I think we played hard enough to win, but we just didn’t convert during that first quarter.
“At the end (of the game) I didn’t have enough timeouts to set up some of the things I wanted to. We still had good things going, we just didn’t execute it.”
Shaq Thiessen scored 11 points for Hillsboro and Harry Faber added 10. Haven’s Luke Johnson led all scorers with 15. As a team, the Trojans shot 35 percent from the floor while Haven shot 45 percent.
“The guys did battle hard,” Knoll said. “A lesser team would have been beaten badly tonight. At least we played to win. That’s what you ask out of team at any time.”
Hillsboro’s season ended with a 13-9 record while Haven improved to 14-8. The Wildcats eventually lost the championship game to Sacred Heart, 49-46.
Hillsboro 49, Lyons 38
The Trojans rediscovered the intensity switch just in time to extend their season in Thursday’s first round. The Trojans used an 11-2 burst in the final three minutes of the third quarter to vault past Lyons, 49-38.
With Hillsboro falling behind, 26-24, after three straight turnovers, Shaq Thiessen hit a deep three-point shot at the top of the key at the 3:01 mark. 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.
“We forced some turnovers, we got some deflections, and Shaq turned up the energy on his guy,” coach Darrel Knoll said about the surge. “(Lyons) really struggled to find open looks, and everybody else was rotating harder, too. That was the key to the game.”
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 two minutes later to give Hillsboro a 40-30 lead with 5:38 to go.
At that point, the Trojans began draining the clock; 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 last quarter I thought we did a nice job of finishing the game, taking the right shots and running time,” Knoll said. “It was a good win.”
The Trojans actually got off to a solid start, leading 11-7 after one quarter. Hillsboro maintained a small lead until literally the final second of the half when a Vincent desperation shot from just inside the half-court line hit nothing but net and gave Lyons a 21-20 advantage at intermission.
“I told the guys at halftime they can’t worry about the luck shot at halftime,” Knoll said. “That’s something that happens now and then. But the thing I said at half time was, we’ve got to run up the defensive intensity if we’re going to win.”
Weinbrenner finished as high-point man for Hillsboro with 15 points, but Faber and Thiessen were close behind with 13 each.
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.
Warriors fight to tie the game, but fall in overtime
Were it not for the Marion boys’ furious fourth quarter rally, No. 4 seed Sacred Heart would have claimed victory at the end of regulation in Friday’s Class 3-A sub-state semifinal game in Hillsboro.
But the Warriors scored 27 points in the final period to tie the game at 58 when time expired after entering the quarter down, 42-31.
But Marion’s missed shots, paired with sure-fire Sacred Heart free-throw shooting down the stretch—the Knights made more free-throws in overtime (11-12) than Marion shot in the game (7-9)—left the Warriors trailing, 71-65, at the end of the game.
For Marion’s intensity in the fourth quarter, the first three were much the opposite in a game the Warriors never led.
The Knights struck first with a basket 15 seconds in, and the Warriors got on the board with a Jacob Harper free throw at 7:10.
Neither team found much early success getting shots to fall, but Sacred Heart held a 4-1 lead at the 4:21 mark. Marion’s first basket came at 3:57 when Jordan Hett scored to bring the Warriors within 4-3.
Three, three-point baskets helped Sacred Heart gain some distance, but two consecutive Hett scores narrowed the Knight lead to 15-12 after one quarter.
Two Warrior missed shots and a turnover in the opening minutes of the second period helped the Knights build a 22-12 lead with 6:32 left before halftime.
With the Warriors shooting only 14 percent from the field in the second quarter (1-7), the Knights outscored Marion 11-6 to hold a 26-18 halftime lead.
“(Sacred Heart’s) pressure wasn’t too great, but it was probably more than anyone had tried on us this season, especially in the half court with them denying the passing lanes and slowing down our movement,” coach Jeff McMillin said. “We were pretty uncharacteristically rattled by it, especially early.”
Marion’s field goal shooting improved to 43 percent (6-14) in the third quarter.
A Hett three-pointer at 1:24 narrowed the gap to 38-31, but a Warrior miss and turnover later allowed Sacred Heart to regain a double-digit, 42-31, lead going into the final quarter.
With the game on the line, the Warriors kicked into high gear.
A Harper basket behind the arc just 22 seconds in set the tone, and a Harper steal led to a three-point basket by Ethan Hett at 7:00 to draw within 42-37.
Defensive Warrior pressure helped fuel the surge, and Taylor Heidebrecht scored off his steal at 6:23 for a 44-39 score. But after four unanswered Knight points, Marion faced a 48-39 deficit.
Zach Robson answered with a three-pointer at 4:02, and the teams scored on five straight possessions. Marion narrowed the gap when the Knights missed a few free throws, and a Harper basket brought Marion to within 53-50 at 2:10.
A Sacred Heart free throw extended the lead to four, but Robson drained another three-pointer at 1:21.
The Warriors could not capitalize on a Knight turnover, however, and fell behind, 56-53, with just under 47 seconds left to play.
After Jordan Hett scored with 17 seconds left to draw within 56-55, the Warriors sent the Knights to the charity stripe with 9.2 seconds left, where Sacred Heart extended its lead to 58-55.
Following a Marion timeout, Jordan Hett nailed a three-pointer with 4 seconds left to even the score and send the game into overtime.
But the Warriors could not bump the lead into their favor. When Marion missed four shots from the field, the Knights claimed a 62-58 lead.
Harper scored a basket, but two Knight free-throws pushed the lead back to four, and Marion couldn’t answer.
Sacred Heart made good on seven of eight free-throw attempts in the final 43 seconds, shooting 92 percent from the charity stripe in overtime (11-12), and finishing at 78 percent (25-32) on the night.
With Marion displaying chilly shooting—25 percent from the field in overtime (3-12), the Knights held a 69-60 lead with just under 20 seconds to play.
Hett broke the ice with five points in the final 13 seconds, including a three-pointer with 2 seconds left, but the rally proved to be too little, too late.
“A hard-fought game between two teams that didn’t want their season to end,” McMillin said about the contest. “We probably didn’t play as well as we are accustomed to playing for too large of a portion of the game.”
Marion recorded 41 percent shooting from the field (25-61). Jordan Hett led the Warriors with a game-high 27 points. Harper added 20.
Sacred Heart (15-8) went on to defeat No. 2 Haven (14-9) 49-46 Saturday to win the sub-state title and advance to the Class 3A State Tournament as the No. 8 seed.
Marion ends the season with a 16-6 overall record.
“It was a great season,” McMillin said. “Great kids to coach—they were internally motivated and played the game hard. I am tremendously thankful for getting to work with this group of guys and sad to see it come to an end.”
Marion 56, Hutch Trinity 31
The Marion boys took care of business in Thursday night’s quarterfinal matchup against Hutchinson Trinity. Entering the Hillsboro sub-state as the No. 1 seed, the Warriors executed at both ends of the court to beat the No. 8 Celtics by 25.
“We came in focused, and we came in ready to go,” coach Jeff McMillin said. “I think we realized what the goal tonight was, and we just really worked hard to achieve it.”
It took the Warriors a little while to find their rhythm, however, as the Celtics jumped to a 3-0 lead when Marion committed a few early turnovers.
But an Austin Pedersen three-point basket halfway through the opening quarter gave the Warriors the lead for good, 6-5.
Nine of Marion’s 12 first-quarter points came from behind the arc, and the Warriors claimed a narrow, 12-10, lead at the end of the first period.
The Warriors lit the fuse in the second quarter, using a 12-0 run to build a 24-10 lead with 3:41 left before halftime when Ethan Hett drained a three-pointer.
Marion showed good ball movement on offense and shot a sizzling 62 percent from the field in the second quarter (8-13) to build a 20-point advantage, 34-14, by halftime.
“We spent a lot of time on how we wanted to execute our offense, and the movement was really good,” McMillin said. “We got the ball, and we were real aggressive on offense.”
The teams traded scores after the break. A 6-0 run by the Celtics was not enough to faze the Warriors, and Marion held a 42-24 lead going into the final quarter.
The Warriors enjoyed their largest lead of the night, 56-29, with 1:47 left to play after Ethan Hett cashed in a basket.
Coach McMillin cleared his bench at 1:17, and the Warriors cruised to the 25-point victory.
“We passed the ball real well tonight,” McMillin said. “As a team, we set up our teammates and got good looks. We did a good job of hitting those open looks, too.”
Marion shot 40 percent from the field (20-50).
Three Warriors scored in double figures. Jacob Harper led the team with 13 points, while Jordan Hett and Ethan Hett each contributed 11.