Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 06 February 2007 18:00Once again, the home stretch proved to be a tough stretch for the Hillsboro boys as clutch free-throw shooting lifted Hesston to a 54-43 win Friday before a Swather home crowd.
The game was much closer than the final score would indicate. When Lucas Hamm nailed a 7-footer with 2:45 left to play, the Trojans were within two points at 42-40. Hamm was fouled on the shot, but his bonus free throw missed the mark.
Fifteen seconds later, Hesston's Michael Petrocci was fouled as he scored in the paint. He made the bonus shot, which began a streak of 10-for-11 free-throw shooting the rest of the way for the home team.
Meanwhile, Hillsboro countered with only one basket in five attempts-a 3-pointer by Troy Frick with 20 seconds to go after Hesston was ahead by 10.
Hesston jumped to a 7-0 lead before Hillsboro finally scored on a basket by Aaron Stepanek with 4:32 left in the opening quarter.
The Swathers led 13-6 at the first break, but a 10-3 Hillsboro run midway through the second period brought the Trojans to within two points, 18-16, with 2:27 left in the half.
A basket by Hamm in the final two seconds whittled Hesston's lead to one by intermission, 22-21, and his 3-pointer only 14 seconds into the third quarter gave Hillsboro its first lead of the night, 24-22.
Hesston regained the lead, but the Trojans took it back one more time on a stick-back by Frick with 3:41 left in the period for a 28-27 advantage.
After Lee Voth-Gaeddert scored for Hesston on the next possession, Hamm drove the lane and appeared to score a layup. But the foul called on the play went against Hamm. The basket was waived off and Voth-Gaeddert scored again a few seconds later to give Hesston a lead it would not relinquish again.
The Swathers led 35-32 after three quarters and quickly jumped the margin to eight points when Petrocci drained a 3-pointer and Kevin Roulhac followed with a 2-point basket in the first 38 seconds of the period.
A basket by Spencer Brown, coupled with two free throws and a basket by Hamm, gave Hillsboro a 6-0 run that tightened the score to 40-38 with 4:01 to play. Voth-Gaeddert then scored one more basket with 3:21 left, setting up the home-stretch scenario.
"We just need to find ways to play to win when the game is on the line," said coach Darrel Knoll, whose team has lost six games this season in which they were within two points or better during the fourth quarter.
"Defensively, I thought we played a pretty solid game," Knoll said. "They didn't get a lot of open looks and I thought we boarded well.
"I just thought we played really passively on offense for the most part. We've got to do better."
Hamm led the Trojans with 21 points.
"He did a lot of good things, we just need to get some help from some of the other guys," Knoll said of his senior leader.
As a team, the Trojans made 19 of 42 shots from the floor (45 percent) but shot only five free throws, making three.
Hesston made 19 of 41 shots from the field (46 percent), but made 11 of 12 from the line.
Hesston improved to 12-2 with the win while Hillsboro dropped to 6-8.
Haven-Hillsboro overcame a tentative start to defeat Haven Friday night by a healthy margin of 43-26 at Brown Gymnasium.
The Trojans scored the first two baskets of the game in the opening 1:08, but Haven went on a 9-0 run midway through the period to led by five points at the first break.
After Haven stretched the lead to 13-6 with 6:47 left in the second period, Aaron Stepanek nailed a 3-pointer at the 5:27 mark that ignited a 9-0 Trojan run that included back-to-back traditional three-point plays by Lucas Hamm.
A pair of 3-pointers by Haven's Isiah Barfield on either side of another Hamm basket gave Haven its last lead at 19-17 with 2:37 left in the half.
Three free throws by Frick and one by Hamm down the stretch gave Hillsboro a 21-19 lead at halftime.
The Trojans took control of the game with a 16-3 surge in the third quarter. Daniel Jost contributed six points and Spencer Brown and Frick added four each to lead the charge.
"I was happy we turned it around after the first quarter," coach Darrel Knoll said. "I don't know if we were flat, just a little unsure of ourselves or what. I thought we played with a lot more confidence down the stretch."
Hillsboro took a 37-22 lead into the final period and still managed to extend it even though Knoll was subbing freely in the final minutes. A 6-0 start to the quarter gave Hillsboro its largest lead of the night at 43-22 with 3:37 to go.
Hamm led Hillsboro with 13 points while Frick added 11. As a team, Hillsboro shot 41 percent for the game (16-39) while limiting the Wildcats to 24 percent (10-41), including 3-for-20 shooting in the second half.
"We wanted to make sure we attacked the basket a little better tonight," Knoll said. "The last game, when we attacked the basket we were really good, and when we settled for a perimeter game we're not as effective."
Coming-Hillsboro (3-3, 6-8) was scheduled to take on a tough Wichita Collegiate (6-0, 9-4) team on Tuesday in a non-league matchup, then will play league games at home against Sterling (5-8, 2-3) on Friday and at Nickerson (5-9, 0-5) next Tuesday.