ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY DON RATZLAFF
In a game that in many ways could serve as a metaphor for their season so far, the Hillsboro Trojans boys overcame a sluggish start, but worked hard to make themselves successful in a 59-35 home-court win against Haven Friday night.
?I was very pleased with the game and the effort,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?We need to be happy we won and celebrate that, and just keep improving ourselves.?
Five minutes into the game, Haven led 6-3 on three buckets by Wes Morgan. Tyson Ratzlaff had nailed a 3-pointer for the Trojans? only score of the game.
His second 3-pointer with 1:30 left in the first quarter gave the Trojans their first lead, 10-8, and Hillsboro never looked back.
?I thought the first half of the first quarter we were a little flat,? Knoll said. ?We didn?t get into our offense like we should, and I didn?t think we were working as hard as we should have been.?
Leading 12-8 heading into the second quarter, Hillsboro went on a 9-2 run, sparked by a basket and three free throws by Garrett Call. By intermission, the score was 28-13, with Ratzlaff accounting for as many points as the entire Haven team.
?I was really happy with us from the middle of the first quarter to the middle of the second quarter,? Knoll said. ?I thought we executed well, and really put them on their heels and forced some turnovers.?
During that stretch, Call came off the bench to score all seven of his points and made several defensive plays that led to Haven turnovers.
?I thought Call played really hard,? Knoll said. ?He got after it and made some things happen for us.?
Haven started the third quarter scoring with a pair of free throws, but Hillsboro, behind a tenacious press, put together a 16-4 run that broke the backs of the Wildcats.
?We talked a lot at halftime about how we have to be ready, and how we can?t come out and give up that 15-point lead we had worked so hard to get,? Knoll said.
Late in the third quarter, Ratzlaff registered the 190th steal of his career, breaking the school record set by Eric Jones in 1991.
?That?s a great record to have,? Knoll said. ?You can talk about points all you want, but if you can get the steal record?190 steals in a career is a nice number to have, especially when you have half a season left in your senior year.?
Unlike Jones, who was an intimidating big man for Hillsboro, Ratzlaff accumulated most of his steals through finesse.
?He has such a great ability to read the offense and he does such a nice job of jumping into the passing lanes,? Knoll said of Ratzlaff. ?He?s very aware of what?s going on.?
In addition to the steals record, Ratzlaff finished with 19 points to lead all scorers. Morgan finished with 17 for Haven.
After squaring off with Halstead Tuesday night, the Trojans are preparing for their first encounter with archrival Wichita Collegiate in Wichita.
?It?s always tough to play down there,? Knoll said. ?As long as we can handle their press and gain some kind of control of the tempo, we can play with them.?