Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 13 February 2007 18:00At times, the game between the Sterling and Hillsboro boys seemed to pit one team that wasn't allowed to score against one that simply couldn't.
But the Trojans did accomplish enough on the offensive end to post a 31-22 victory Friday over the Black Bears at Brown Gymnasium.
With Spencer Brown providing a couple of baskets, Hillsboro built a 7-1 lead through the opening 5:30 as both teams struggled to find some kind of rhythm on offense.
Sterling scored twice in the final 1:25 to cut the lead to 7-5 at the first break. But the tempo never picked up in the second quarter. By halftime the Trojans were clinging to a 12-9 lead.
Hillsboro got some open shots, but made only four of 18 attempts (22 percent) through the first two quarters. Sterling, getting very few open looks against the Trojan defense, made four of 19 (21 percent).
The story line for Hillsboro-solid defense but poor shooting-continued into the third quarter. But the Trojans did get a lift from Tyler Kaufman. The senior came off the bench to score a back-to-back 2-pointer and 3-pointers midway through the period to help the Trojans to a 19-13 lead at the final break.
Sterling's Kaleb Humphreys drained a 3-pointer 10 seconds into the final period, but Kaufman came right back with a pair of baskets that ignited an 8-0 run that ended when Humphreys hit the first of two more 3-pointers with 2:28 to play. Hillsboro was leading relatively comfortably at 27-16.
Humphreys' second trey with 1:59 to play cut the margin to 29-22, but the Trojans pitched a shutout the rest of the way to preserve the victory.
"I was never disappointed in us except that we gave up the two 3s when the game was on the line," coach Darrel Knoll said. "Other than, I thought we defended well the entire night. We took care of the boards and made it tough on them to get any passes where they wanted them.
"On the other hand, they played really hard as well. We just missed a lot of shots inside that we should have had and we rushed some shots on the outside."
For the game, Hillsboro made 15 of 47 attempts from the floor (32 percent, but Sterling struggled even more, connecting on nine of 40 (23 percent).
"It was a tough shooting night," Knoll said. "It was really physical inside and we just had trouble finding the basket. Hopefully, we'll keep coming back next time and put the ball in the basket. It was a great defensive effort."
Kaufman finished as Hillsboro's high scorer with nine points while Humphreys took game honors with 13.
"He does have the ability to put the ball in the basket," Knoll said of Kaufman. "Hopefully, he's starting to find that right now."
Hillsboro's other spark came from Brown, who finished with eight points.
"Spencer had a great night," Knoll said. "He really hustled, got some steals and made a couple of transition baskets that were key. He did a really nice job."
Collegiate-Hillsboro used a zone defense to slow lightning-quick Collegiate at the start of Tuesday's game, but the speedy Spartans eventually pulled away from the home team with a 48-28 victory in Brown Gymnasium.
Actually, the game's outcome was all but determined by halftime, with Collegiate enjoying a 25-9 lead. But in the early going, it appeared the two teams were destined for a battle.
Even though the Trojans missed their first four shots from the floor, their 2-3 zone seemed to stymie the Spartans.
A basket by Collegiate's Mitch Gentry and a free throw by teammate Brett Alexander provided the only points of the game until Hillsboro's Troy Frick scored in the paint with 2:12 left in the quarter.
After Clint Cornejo sank a 15-footer with 1:42 left for a 5-2 Collegiate lead, three consecutive turnovers by Hillsboro resulted in two quick Spartan baskets for a 9-2 spread at the first break.
At the start of the second period, Collegiate's Joseph Houlik made Hillsboro pay for back-to-back turnovers by draining two 3-pointers and two free throws.
Suddenly, the Trojans were down 17-2. Coach Darrel Knoll called a timeout at the 6:32 mark in an effort to keep the ship afloat, and his team responded with two baskets to cut the lead to 11.
But the Spartans-forcing the Trojans into turnovers on four consecutive possessions-pulled off an 8-1 run that carried them to their 16-point halftime spread.
"It was just really tough for us to get the ball inbounds against the press," Knoll said. "They do a great job of denying, and we had a hard time getting by them."
Another 8-1 run to start the third quarter extended Collegiate's lead to a game-high 23 points (33-10) at the 5:55 mark.
By quarter's end Hillsboro had whittled the margin to 36-18, but the Trojans never got closer the rest of the way.
"We just wanted to finish hard and play the best we could," Knoll said about the second half. "I thought the guys competed to the end. We still made a lot of mistakes, but I didn't think we gave up tonight. At least we did that."
With 18 turnovers, Hillsboro managed only 25 field-goal attempts the entire evening and made nine (36 percent).
Meanwhile, Collegiate made 17 of 35 shots (49 percent) and turned the ball over only four times.
Lucas Hamm and Darren Enns led Hillsboro with nine points each while Cornejo was the only player to break double digits with 15.
"They're the best team we've played this year," Knoll said. "They go 10 deep, and it's very evident they've been playing a lot of basketball in the off season and year round.
"I thought we played well defensively early in the zone, but we just turned the ball over too many times," he added. "We had trouble getting any shots to fall and didn't get many offensive boards. When that happens, you're not going to score a lot."
Coming-The Trojans were scheduled to take their 7-9 record to Nickerson on Tuesday.
On Friday, Hillsboro will be looking to avenge a 46-44 loss at Halstead in December. The Dragons appearance at Brown Gymnasium will be Hillsboro's final home game of the regular season.
Next week, Hillsboro wraps up its regular season at Lyons on Tuesday and at Smoky Valley on Friday.