Double heartbreak in Great Bend

Ross Duerksen’s off-balance 3-pointer with a defender in his face fell short at the final buzzer and so did the Hillsboro Trojans, who lost to Great Bend, 52-50, Friday night on the road.

It was the second straight outing that Hillsboro took a close game to the last second before losing. But that’s where the comparison ends with Tuesday’s miserable loss to Chase County.

On Friday, The Trojans came out strong against the Class 5A Panthers and gave them everything they could handle-and often more.

Hillsboro started slowly as Great Bend used its significant height advantage inside to stake a 16-8 lead after the first quarter.

The Panthers continued their lob-it-inside strategy through the second period. Their 6-5 post, Clinton Snyder, tallied 15 points by halftime.

But the Trojans turned up the heat on their end of the court, driving inside for the foul or scoring backdoor buckets to take a 30-27 lead at intermission.

Hillsboro converted 12 of 14 free throw attempts during the period, including a six-for-six performance from Tyler Weinbrenner over the last 1:40. The sophomore added a field goal during that same stretch, but sat out the second half because of an injured ankle.

The Trojans expanded their lead to six points, 43-37, as the third quarter ended with the help of three 3-pointers.

In the final period, the Panthers’ Micah Kile hit a couple of 3-pointers and two free throws to tie the game at 47 with 3:47 to play.

Snyder followed with a traditional three-point play and another free throw to give Great Bend a 51-49 lead before he fouled out with 1:39 to play and 27 points to his credit.

Senior leader Grant Brubacher had two opportunities to tie the game, but his shots just missed the mark.

After Kile hit another free throw to increase the lead to 52-49, the Trojans missed two more shots. Duerksen was fouled on the rebound and hit one of of two free throws with 10 seconds to play.

Brubacher then intercepted a Panther pass at mid-court and called a timeout with four seconds to play. Duerksen took the inbounds pass in traffic and managed to get off a final, but errant, shot.

“They got better looks in the fourth quarter than we did,” coach Darrel Knoll said afterward. “I thought we could have been a little more patient and try to beat them on penetration. We were beating them backdoor and getting it inside. When we kicked it out, we had an open look. For some reason, we didn’t do that in the last part of the ball game.”

Knoll was disappointed with the loss, but pleased with the overall play of his team.

“I was happy with our guys tonight,” he said. “We played a lot better than we have been. I hated to lose the ball game and I know the guys are really down about it, but the upside is at least we’re playing basketball.”

Chase County-Hillsboro shooters were in a definite zone Tuesday night, Dec. 10, in Cottonwood Falls.

Unfortunately, it was the Twilight Zone.

The Trojans (1-1) shot a frightful 19 percent from the floor-10 of 53-but still came within an eyelash of potential victory before losing to Chase County, 34-32.

Grant Brubacher’s floating 12-footer from the left side with two seconds would have sent the game into overtime. But, appropriately enough on this night, the ball sailed over the hoop and into the hands of some jubilant Bulldogs.

The Trojans were hot from the free-throw line, hitting eight for nine. But almost every other shot-whether long or short, guarded or open-failed to fall.

“I thought we got pretty good shots, we just didn’t make any,” a disappointed coach Darrel Knoll said. “You’re going to have a hard time winning a ball game when you shoot the way we shot tonight. It’s as poor as I’ve ever seen.

“It’s not like the guys can’t shoot the basketball,” he added. “When we started missing there was a lid on the bucket and we just kept missing.”

The tone was set early as the Trojans missed their first 11 field-goal attempts before Tyler Weinbrenner came off the bench and nailed a 3-pointer with 2:35 left in the first quarter.

By quarter’s end, Hillsboro led 11-4 following what proved to be the Trojans’ only offensive spurt of the game as Grant Brubacher hit a field goal and Phillip Terrell, within 38 seconds, followed with two buckets in the paint.

If the first quarter was less than dreamy, the second quarter turned nightmarish. The only point Hillsboro scored the entire period was on a free throw by Grant Brubacher after a technical foul was called on Chase County’s T.R. McComber.

Even so, the game was still tied at intermission, 12-12, thanks to the solid Trojan defense.

“I thought we played very well defensively, it’s just offensively we couldn’t get it done tonight for some reason,” Knoll said.

In the third quarter, after Nathan Fish scored a bucket down low to give Hillsboro its last lead, 14-12, Chase County went on a 7-0 run over the next 1:12-a veritable offensive explosion on this night-to take a 19-14 advantage.

In the final period, Hillsboro pulled within one, 30-29, on a Weinbrenner bucket with 2:56 to play. Terrell then stole the ball, but Fish couldn’t convert the bucket. Chase County rebounded, called timeout, and began running the clock.

Finally, with 40.3 seconds left, Andy Brubacher fouled Matt Rains, who missed both charity tosses. But Strahan snagged the rebound and scored for a 32-29 Bulldog lead.

After Weinbrenner missed a 3-pointer, Garrett Call was called for a foul on the rebound with 22.4 seconds left. Brian Alexander made one of two free throws.

Following a Trojan timeout, Andy Brubacher nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to bring the Trojans to within one, 33-32.

Call fouled Alexander on the inbounds play with nine seconds to play. Alexander missed the first free throw but made the second.

A deflected pass gave the Trojans a chance to set up one last shot in the forecourt with 3.4 seconds to go. Grant Brubacher snagged the inbounds pass, stepped through two defenders and launched the final shot.

This was only the latest disappointment for Knoll in the Chase County gym. He is 1-4 there over his 12-year career and some of his best teams have been victimized.

“This gym is tough to play in,” he said, shaking his head.

Coming-The Trojans were schedule to play Lyons on Tuesday. Results should be available on the Free Press Free Line (947-3363) or the Free Press Web site (

Hillsboro closes its pre-Christmas schedule with a game at home against Ellinwood on Friday and then a matchup with archrival Wichita Collegiate in Wichita on Tuesday, Dec. 19. The varsity boys will play around 8 p.m.

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