ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY DON RATZLAFF
Too much firepower, too many fresh legs.
The Hillsboro boys battled second-ranked Collegiate toe-to-toe for a quarter. But in the end, Collegiate?s talent and depth propelled them to a 69-52 homecourt victory.
The Trojan loss ended a seven-game winning streak over their archrivals through the past three seasons.
?Collegiate just has a really good team,? coach Darrel Knoll said afterward. ?Their starting five is solid. They?ve got a lot of weapons.?
One unexpected weapon was reserve guard Justin Elkouri, who scored eight points, including two 3-pointers, in the last five minutes of the first half to spark Collegiate from a 25-24 deficit to a 38-28 lead at intermission.
Executing well offensively and defensively, the Trojans had established a 21-18 lead after one quarter. Garrett Call?s traditional 3-point play gave Hillsboro its biggest lead of the night, 19-14, with 1:30 to play in the quarter.
Two minutes into the third quarter, Hillsboro had fallen behind 42-28. But the Trojans, sparked by six points from point guard Grant Brubacher, put together a 9-0 run to pull within five points with 4:25 left.
Then Collegiate countered with an 11-0 run that established a 16-point lead and drained the Trojans physically and mentally. The Spartans controlled the game from that point on.
This physical, highly charged battle turned on Collegiate?s depth. Coach Mitch Fiegel?s five-in, five-out platooning strategy kept his team fresh and wore down the Trojans.
?We?re a little bit out of game shape right now,? Knoll admitted. ?Practices haven?t gone with the usual Trojan intensity because of a lot of injuries. We?ve got to get ourselves into better shape if we?re going to compete in the post-season.?
Tyson Ratzlaff scored 14 to lead Hillsboro (5-3, 2-1). Brubacher finished with nine and Nathan Fish and Jeremy Loewen each scored seven.
Brett Sweeney posted 21 points for the Spartans (7-0, 3-0) on 9-for-15 shooting. Elkouri had 13 and Blane Williams 11.
Halstead?The Trojans proved that a good team can beat a great player as they rallied in the second half to overcome Dennis Latimore and his Halstead teammates, 46-40, Friday night in Brown Gymnasium.
It wasn?t easy.
The 6-9 Latimore, subject of a lot of media attention after returning to Halstead following a year in Arizona, scored 23 points and at times intimidated the Trojans defensively.
But in the end, a gallant defensive tag-team effort by Jesse Hamm and Scott Winter, outsized by eight and five inches, respectively, helped limit Latimore?s effectiveness in the second half and gave the Trojans an opportunity to win.
?You can?t say enough about Jesse Hamm and Scott Winter stepping up,? said coach Darrel Knoll. ?They played really hard tonight, probably the best defense they?ve played all year. I was very proud of those two guys.?
Latimore set the tone early, scoring the first two buckets of the game, then frustrating the Trojan offense in the paint.
Stymied inside, the Trojans opted for a long-range attack. Jeremy Loewen broke the scoring ice for Hillsboro three and one-half minutes into the game with a 3-pointer.
Tyson Ratzlaff followed shortly with a 3-pointer, then Loewen struck again a minute later, to give Hillsboro its first lead, 9-6.
The Trojans capitalized on two breaks to get themselves in position to win.
With Hillsboro trailing 16-13 two minutes into the second quarter, point guard Grant Brubacher slipped through the lane for a layup. When Latimore was whistled for a technical foul for slapping the backboard, Brubacher canned both free throws, then scored again seconds later after a steal.
Suddenly, the Trojans were back on top, 19-16.
?It did get us back in the game,? Knoll said of the technical. ?It regained their confidence at that point. I thought that was pretty big.?
With the score tied at 31 in the third quarter, Brubacher began a 9-0 run for Hillsboro with a free throw. Ratzlaff followed with a 2-pointer on a goaltending call against Latimore, then nailed his third 3-pointer of the night. Ratzlaff made a great inside feed to Winter, who capped the run with the bucket and a free throw after he was fouled on the shot.
Latimore came back with an old-fashioned three-point play of his own, but the Trojans led 40-34 at the end of the third quarter.
?That was probably the most important part of the ball game, to get the lead,? Knoll said. ?And then we were somehow able to hang on.?
Though both were slowed by foot injuries, Ratzlaff and Brubacher provided the offensive leadership for Hillsboro with 19 points and 11 points, respectively.