ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
For three quarters of Friday’s Mid Division opener, the most endangered Eagles on Planet Earth may have been the ones from Ellinwood who could find a way to score against Hillsboro’s pressure defense.
It took Ellinwood well into the fourth quarter to score its 20th point of the night as Hillsboro rolled to an easy 52-30 win in Brown Gymnasium.
“I thought we played tremendously hard the entire ball game,” said coach Darrel Knoll. “At the end we gave up a couple of things we shouldn’t have, but sometimes that happens when you’re ahead by that much.”
Neither team was going to set scoring records on this night. Hillsboro managed only 10 points in the opening period, but didn’t allow an Ellinwood score until a minute remained.
The Trojans then got 3-pointers from Layne Frick and Shawn Hughbanks and a pair of free throws from Grant Brubacher to open an 18-2 advantage three minutes into the second period. Hillsboro led 23-9 at intermission.
The Trojans took total control in the third quarter with a 17-2 run. Ellinwood got a three-point play and two additional free throws in the final 25 seconds to close the margin to 40-16 by quarter’s end.
Only an 11-4 run by Ellinwood in the last four minutes of the game made the final margin as respectable as it was.
Knoll was rightfully pleased with his team’s defensive play against the Eagles. Offensively, he liked the ball movement and shot selection, but he’s still waiting for his crew to start hitting their shots like he knows they can.
“That’s going to come,” he said. “I don’t know what it’s going to take, but eventually we’re going to get out of this slump because these guys can shoot.
“We just need to get some more enthusiasm flowing and some positive energy going and I think the shots will start to fall.”
The Trojans spread the points around this night. Grant Brubacher and Tyler Weinbrenner each scored 11 to lead the team, while Frick turned in his best offensive performance of the season with 10 points.
With the win, Hillsboro improves to 3-2 overall.
Lyons-Led by an outstanding performance by Grant Brubacher, the Hillsboro High School boys licked their shooting woes and ultimately the Lyons Lions, 73-45, Tuesday in Brown Gymnasium.
Brubacher put on a great offensive show with 33 points, including several long-range 3-pointers, and was 12 for 18 from the field.
But it was the senior’s play on the other end of the court that turned the game Hillsboro’s way, according to coach Darrel Knoll.
“I think what really got us going was Grant’s defense on their point guard,” he said. “He just frustrated him to no end. A lot of the guys played some good defense out on the guards.”
The Trojans started slowly, missing their first six shots. With Hillsboro trailing 5-0, Brubacher hit a five-footer with 4:52 left in the opening quarter that got the Trojans on track.
By quarter’s end, Hillsboro was on top 14-11 and Brubacher had nine points in the bank, including a big 3-pointer that gave Hillsboro its first lead in the closing seconds.
The momentum of that shot carried into the next quarter. Six Trojans contributed to a 24-10 run that broke the game open, 38-21. Brubacher had 19 points by intermission.
By the end of the third quarter, Hillsboro led 54-28 and the only question left was how many points Brubacher would score before he was pulled from the game.
As a team, Hillsboro shot 45.8 percent from the field, including 11 of 24 from behind the arc.
The Trojans frustrated Lyons all night from the perimeter but the Lions found some success going inside to Ty Houseman, their 6-2 forward, who finished with a team-high 15 points, 10 in the first half.
In the second half, the Lions’ best opportunities came at the free-throw line. They went to their nine times and hit nine of 12 charities.
“It seems like a lot of the fouls we had were because we got ourselves out of position and we reached, or because we went over-the-back and didn’t work hard enough to get good position for the rebound,” Knoll said.
“Our opponents are shooting a lot more free throws than we are and we’ve got to quit giving up so many points on the line.”
Grant Brubacher was the only Trojan to break double figures, but a pair of sophomores, Andy Brubacher and Shawn Hughbanks, each added nine points and junior Ross Duerksen scored eight.
In all, 10 Trojans contributed points. They turned the ball over only five times, a season low, while forcing 22 Lion turnovers.
Coming-Hillsboro was scheduled to complete its pre-Christmas schedule Tuesday night on the road against state-ranked Wichita Collegiate.
Results of that game should be available on the Free Line (947-3363) and the Free Press Web site (www.hillsboro-freepress.com)