Trojan boys wither under Dragons’ attack

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The next time the Hillsboro High School boys do battle against some powerful Dragons, they better bring a few more weapons along.


The Trojans were clearly overmatched in their first encounter with state-ranked Halstead Friday night in Brown Gymnasium, losing 56-39.


Ironically, the Trojans’ best individual performances came against the biggest and baddest Dragon of them all, 6-9 senior standout Dennis Latimore, who pummeled the Trojans with a game-high 27 points.


But it would have been worse for Hillsboro if not for the defensive effort put forth by senior Michael Hagen early in the game and then later by junior Adam Woods.


The pair banged bodies with Latimore in the post and kept the giant Dragon contained as much as could be expected.


“Dennis is a big body inside,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “I thought we played him as hard as we could. He just kind of manhandled us. I thought Woods played very well against Dennis and gave us some good time.”


The 6-4 Woods, used sparingly prior to this game, also gave the team something few of his mates brought with them-some offensive spark.


He hit four of six shots against Latimore and brought the crowd to its feet with his spirited play in the paint.


Woods’s eight points tied him with Grant Brubacher for team-high honors.


The Trojans jousted with the Dragons for the first three minutes of the game, taking a short-lived 4-3 lead on a couple of baskets by Nathan Fish, the second coming with 5:05 to play in the opening period.


Halstead then went on a 14-2 run the rest of the quarter, fueled with eight points by Latimore, to take a 17-6 lead at the buzzer.


That margin grew to 21-6 early in the second quarter before Grant Brubacher finally broke through with a pair of buckets to bring the Trojans to within 11.


The margin remained the same at intermission, 30-19.


Contrary to a year ago, this year’s Dragons are more than another rendition of “Dennis & the Miracles.” Eight points from Casey Green, combined with 10 more from Latimore, slowly expanded the Halstead lead in the second half.


Meanwhile, beyond the heroics of Woods, the Trojans could get little going offensively. It didn’t help that Brubacher, the Trojan floor leader, suffered a deep bruise to the knee in the second quarter and was forced to sit out much of the second half.


The Trojans desperately needed some offensive fire if they hoped to compete with the Dragons, but shot a mediocre 37 percent from the field, including 2-of-17 from behind the arc. The Trojans were out-rebounded, 31-18.


“I knew coming in we were going to have to shoot the ball well just simply because it’s tough for us to get any offensive boards if Dennis is in there,” Knoll said.


“We didn’t shoot very well. A lot of the shots we took were open shots; it wasn’t like they were poor shots by any means. But if you don’t get any second looks at it, it’s going to be tough to get much confidence in anything we’re doing.”


The Trojan defense managed only two steals against Halstead, which Knoll said may have been the lowest total ever recorded during his tenure.


Coming-The Trojans were scheduled to play at Nickerson on Tuesday. Results are available on the Free Line (947-3363) and the Free Press Web site (old.hillsborofreepress.com).


This Friday they travel to Sterling for an MCAA Mid Division battle with the Black Bears, the only team to beat Halstead this season.


On Monday, the Trojans will compete as the host team in this year’s Trojan Classic. See page 14 for story and tournament pairings.

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