First step to state

He?s back. Finally.

In his return to the Hillsboro lineup Monday night, Tyson Ratzlaff sparked the Trojans to a first-round sub-state tournament victory over visiting Marion, 68-42.

Ratzlaff put together an impressive performance, scoring 13 points with several assist and steals. He sparked the Hillsboro fast break several times in the second half.

?It was really nice to have Tyson back in the lineup tonight,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?He did a lot of things for us. You can just tell the intensity of the game picks up when he is in there.?

Ratzlaff capped his return with a dunk with 6:22 remaining in the game after a steal.

?We really turned it up on the press tonight,? Knoll said. ?Tyson makes all the difference on that press. He sees the court so well and guys know he is such a great passer that he will find them. If everyone would be ready for those passes, we would have had even more easy baskets tonight.?

Hillsboro led by 15 heading into the fourth quarter, then pushed its lead to as many as 26.

Another spark for the Trojans came from Garrett Call, who came off the bench to score eight points. His defense and rebounding were keys to the game.

?Garrett came out and played under control and within himself tonight,? Knoll said. ?He did a lot of nice things for us. If we can get that kind of contribution from everyone, we will be looking good.?

Grant Brubacher led the Trojans with 15 points, and myriad assists shortly after halftime. Nathan Fish scored 10.

With the win, Hillsboro advances to the semifinals to be played Thursday evening at 7:30 in Hillsboro. The Trojans will take on Herington, who slipped past Northern Heights in their opening-round game.

Nickerson?A quick start Friday night at Nickerson led to a fast finish for the Hillsboro boys in a 77-55 win in the regular-season finale.

The Trojans continued their hot shooting from outside, hitting four 3-pointers in the first quarter and nailing nine for the game.

?I thought, first quarter especially, we moved the ball really well on offense and worked for good shots,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?We were able to complete some plays and, even when we missed, we got some offensive boards, and that was really a key for us tonight.?

Leading the way inside were Jesse Hamm and Scott Winter. Hamm scored a season-high 10 points, including a put-back less than two minutes into the game which helped set the tone.

?(The post players) played a lot harder tonight than they did the last game, and they needed to,? Knoll said. ?They did do a nice job inside for us and we had a better game tonight, so I was pleased with that.?

Hillsboro jumped to a 26-14 lead after the first quarter, led by the hot shooting of Grant Brubacher, who scored eight points.

The second quarter began much as the first quarter ended, with a Brubacher 3-pointer to expand the Trojans? advantage to 29-14 just 10-seconds into the second quarter.

Hillsboro put relentless defensive pressure on the ball and continued to pull away, leading by 18 points at halftime.

Ross Duerksen led Hillsboro to its first third-quarter ?victory? in several games, something Knoll was happy about.

?We finally won the third quarter for the first time in six games, so that was nice to see that we came out with some intensity and showed good effort,? Knoll said.

Grant Brubacher led the Trojans with 21 points, while Jeremy Loewen added 16, including four 3-pointers.

Ross Duerksen had nine points, all in the third quarter.

Ellinwood?A late downpour of 3-pointers wasn?t enough to overcome a scoring drought that plagued Hillsboro most of the second half Tuesday night, as the Trojans lost on the road to the last-place Eagles, 61-57.

Hillsboro jumped to an 8-1 lead to open the game and still led, 31-28, at intermission.

Sophomore Ross Duerksen, making his first start of the season, scored nine points and Grant Brubacher added eight to fuel the Trojans through the first two periods.

But Hillsboro stepped into the Twilight Zone for the next period and a half, managing only five points and giving up several easy baskets low in the post with some soft interior defense.

With four minutes to play in the game, the Trojans suddenly found themselves trailing, 48-36.

?You have to give Ellinwood some credit,? a dejected coach Darrel Knoll said after the game. ?With it being ?Senior Night? and all, they came out and played hard. But we just came out flat (in the third quarter). We didn?t get any ball movement to free up some shots. And when we did take a shot, we couldn?t hit it.?

Freshman Andy Brubacher finally woke his elders from their funk with three 3-pointers over the next 1:20 to pull Hillsboro to within eight, 53-45.

The Trojans added four more treys in the final 1:24, including a fourth from Brubacher.

But Ellinwood thwarted the comeback by hitting six of eight free throws over the same stretch.

None were bigger than the pair Chad Kaiser buried with 2.1 seconds left to seal the win after Hillsboro had pulled to within two points on a 3-pointer by Nathan Fish.

Hillsboro finished with 13 treys on the night, but couldn?t get much else going offensively. Ellinwood shut down leading scorer Grant Brubacher in the second half, and no one else stepped up until his younger brother took over late in the game.

?The way we were playing (in the third quarter), Grant tried to make things happen one-on-one, but he just can?t do it by himself,? Knoll said.

Andy Brubacher came into the game shooting 0-7 on the season from behind the arc, but hit five of six against Ellinwood to finish with a team-high 15 points. Grant Brubacher was the only other Trojan in double figures with 10.

With the loss, the Trojans completed Mid Division play tied with Halstead for second at 4-4.

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