Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 11 December 2012 14:40
A tournament that started on a hot note for the Hillsboro boys ended in disappointment as cold shooting undermined a week of hustle at the Moundridge Preseason Tournament.
After opening with a solid 59-52 win Tuesday on the home court of state-ranked Moundridge, the Trojans dropped a 47-44 decision Thursday to Inman and a 41-35 loss to Lyons on Friday.
Hillsboro’s 1-2 record left the Trojans tied with Lyons while Moundridge and Inman both finished 2-1.
Lyons—The Trojans got off to a solid start against the Lions. When Shaq Thiessen drained three consecutive shots late in the first quarter, Hillsboro enjoyed an 11-8 lead.
But Lyons’ Ryan McClure hit a three-pointer with 13 seconds left to tie the game at 11 at the first break.
Brett Weinbrenner started the second quarter with two free throws and a basket in the first 34 seconds for a 15-11 Hillsboro lead. But the road got suddenly bumpy for the Trojans, who made only seven of 32 field-goal attempts (22 percent) the rest of the game.
Despite the shooting drought, the Trojans remained in the hunt until the final buzzer, thanks to their hustle on defense.
By the end of the second quarter, Lyons led 23-20. Weinbrenner hit a three-pointer midway through the quarter to tie the game at 27, but Lyons poked ahead by the end of the quarter, 33-30.
The fourth quarter was agony for HHS. The Trojans made only two of 11 shots and committed five turnovers. Lyons built a 39-33 lead and then hung on until the end.
Thiessen, who experienced his first off shooting night of the season, still finished as the Trojans’ top scorer with 11 points. Weinbrenner was right behind with 10.
Inman—Hillsboro’s night of no-quit hustle Thursday wasn’t enough in the end to pull out a victory against an Inman team with quickness and size.
Hillsboro established a 7-4 lead midway through the opening quarter, but a 7-2 surge by the Teutons settled into an 11-11 tie when Hillsboro’s Harry Faber sank a pair of free throws with 0.1 seconds left.
By halftime, Inman had built a lead of 27-21 with Hillsboro making only four of 14 shots from the floor during the second period.
“I just thought we were pressing too hard in the first half, trying to make too much happen with too little,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “It’s hard to dig out of a hole against a team that’s playing really well.”
The Teutons seemed on the verge of a knockout when their 7-2 run to start the second half left Hillsboro facing an 11-point deficit at 34-23. When the score hit 36-26 with 5:23 left in the quarter, the Trojans shut down the Teuton attack the rest of the quarter.
Even so, Inman was still leading by eight points at 36-28 with Hillsboro struggling for points. Thiessen then cashed in two steals for baskets within a 13-second span to pull HHS to within four points at the final break.
When Thiessen drained a three-pointer in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, the deficit was down to one. The Trojans actually regained a brief lead at 44-43 when Thiessen hit a 15-footer with 1:15 left in the game.
It turned out to be the last basket Hillsboro could manage, going 0-for-3 in the final minute while Inman added two free throws with 17 seconds left.
After a foul, Hillsboro inbounded the ball along the sideline on its end of the floor with 3.8 seconds to go and down by three. Faber’s attempt at a harried three-pointer fell short as the buzzer sounded.
Thiessen finished with 22 points on 10-for-20 shooting; the rest of the team shot 17 percent from the floor. Hillsboro was outrebounded, 35-20.
“I was really proud of our guys for coming back,” Knoll said. “I thought we moved the ball much better in the second half. We got a lot better shots, but we just didn’t make shots tonight.”
Moundridge—It was a tall order for a season opener, but the Trojans, ranked fourth in Class 3A, out-battled their hosts from Moundridge, ranked sixth in 2A, in Tuesday’s first round.
“It was a team effort, and I really appreciated how hard we played tonight,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “To beat a really good team with a great history and program on their court right out of the box is good.”
Moundridge led 7-4 when Hillsboro’s Shaq Thiessen drained a three-pointer, then about 10 seconds later stole the ball and scored on a layup to give Hillsboro a 9-7 advantage midway through the first quarter.
Moundridge took the lead once more on a three-pointer by Daniel Ratzlaff at the 3:39 mark. But Hillsboro shut down the home team the rest of the quarter while scoring five points for a 14-10 lead at the first break.
After the Wildcats pulled to within 16-15, a fast-break layup by Evan Ollenburger, a bucket by Josh Wiebe, a pair of free throws from Brett Weinbrenner and a basket by Thiessen gave Hillsboro an 8-3 surge to end the half with a 24-18 lead.
A 6-1 surge to start the third quarter put Hillsboro up by 11 at 30-19, but Moundridge cut the deficit to 30-25 within three minutes. Three-pointers from Thiessen and Harry Faber helped Hillsboro to a 40-31 lead by the end of the period.
HHS expanded its lead to 44-31 early in the final period, but the Wildcats again clawed their way back, thanks in part to two three-pointers by Tyler Kaufman within a 32-second span. Ratzlaff followed with a two-pointer to close the margin to 46-41 with 4:45 to play.
But Thiessen scored five points and Weinbrenner four down the stretch to nail down the win.
“Before the game, I told the guys we’re just going to have to play hard—we’re going to have to make runs, and we’re going to have to withstand some that they’re going to make,” Knoll said.
“Those guys can really shoot it if they get open,” he said about the Wildcats. “I thought for the most part we did a good job contesting, but there were two or three (shots) down the stretch where we got a little bit lax on defending and they knocked them down.”
Thiessen’s athleticism helped him to 23 points for HHS. Weinbrenner added 13 on the strength of 9-of-10 free-throw shooting.
As team, Hillsboro shot a solid 43 percent (23-54) from the floor while limiting Moundridge to 35 percent (18-51).
“Evan played great on defense, Brett did a nice job of running the offense and being smart defensively, Shaq had some awesome plays and rebounded well, and the guys we kept rotating inside did a great job of cleaning up most of the misses,” Knoll said.
“We got good minutes out of a lot of players,” he added. “We’re finding some things out about where we can play some people.”
Coming—Hillsboro was scheduled for a rematch with Lyons Tuesday, then will head to Halstead Friday. The Trojans will finally play at home next Tuesday against Smoky Valley.