ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Firing at times on nine and 10 cylinders, the Hillsboro boys’ team used its depth to motor past the Marion Warriors 65-41 in the season opener Friday night in Brown Gymnasium.
Coach Darrel Knoll substituted early and often, sometimes in waves of four players at a time. He was pleased with what he saw.
“I thought in the first quarter all the guys who went in really executed well,” he said “They seemed to play with a lot of intensity, and desire and enthusiasm.”
Six Trojans scored during a dominating first period. Ross Duerksen started it with a 3-pointer less than 30 seconds into the game. Hillsboro stretched its lead to 11-0 before Marion scored on a bucket by Blake Conyers midway through the quarter.
A pair of sophomores, Andy Brubacher and Tyler Weinbrenner, came off the bench to score 11 points over the final four minutes. Brubacher hit a pair of 3-pointers and Weinbrenner added two buckets and a free throw.
By the time the quarter ended, Hillsboro was up 21-7 and the tone of the game had been set.
By halftime, the Trojans, primed by their pressure defense, had stretched the lead to 38-20. During the second quarter, seven players contributed on the offensive end.
The second half of the game was an even match as Marion countered Trojan scores with buckets in the paint or free throws.
“In the second half, it seemed like we got a little lax and gave up some easy second shots because we didn’t take to the boards,” Knoll said.
Grant Brubacher, the Trojans’ senior point guard, led the team with 13 points, including seven straight in the third quarter. He was the only Trojan in double figures, but seven other players scored five or more points.
“We didn’t shoot as well as we’d like to at times, but we moved the ball well and took good shots,” Knoll said.
“I just think we need to work on developing more consistency, and-if I can continue to play these kinds of numbers-it’s going to take a little bit to get that kind of consistency going,” he said.
Knoll was pleased with the way his starters and reserves contributed when they took their turns on the court.
“I still have to get in my mind how I want to do that,” he said about his player rotation. “For tonight, it was a good deal for everybody. Everybody got a taste of varsity, and I was able to see a little bit what we were able to do.”
For a first game, Knoll thought his team played well.
“I was scared we’d come out and play tight and stand around a little bit,” he said. “We didn’t do that at all. We played aggressively.”
Knoll complimented Marion on their play, too.
“They were much more disciplined tonight than I’ve seen in a long time,” he said. “I thought they played a pretty good ball game.”
Chase Freeborn led a balanced Warrior attack with 11 points. Braxton Skiles and Jamey Cooper added eight and Conyers seven.
This was the first season in several that the Trojans did not open against Class 5A power Andover.
“In some ways, it’s nice to play a team like Marion, where we’re pretty confident that we come out and do some things we want to do and maybe come away with a win,” Knoll said. “But on the other hand, it’s also pretty nerve-wracking because if you don’t execute right, a team like them can sneak up and beat you.”
Coming-Hillsboro played at Chase County Tuesday night. Results of the game are available on the Free Line (947-3363) and on the Free Press Web site (old.hillsborofreepress.com).
On Friday, The Trojans make the long trip to Great Bend to take on a strong Class 5A team that went 20-3 last season and made it to state, but lost nine seniors.
The following Tuesday, Dec. 12, the Trojans host Lyons. The varsity game will begin around 8 p.m.