Trojans upend No. 1 Halstead at the buzzer

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
It hasn’t been confirmed that “Brubacher” means “buzzer beater” in its Swiss-German origin, but it’s taken on that meaning lately for Trojan basketball fans.


For the second time in as a many games, a last-second shot by Hillsboro’s Grant Brubacher toppled a Class 3A giant. Four days after humbling fourth-ranked Wichita Collegiate, the Trojans brought down top-ranked Halstead, 39-36, Tuesday in Halstead.


The Dragons, though, were one giant short of full stature. Dennis Latimore, the team’s 6-9 star, was benched for undisclosed reasons and watched the game in street clothes.


“A win’s a win,” coach Darrel Knoll said after the game. “We lost two or three games in the last seconds this year, and I don’t care if Dennis was playing or not. We would have preferred that he played tonight.”


The Trojans had their hands full without him. Their biggest lead of the game was four points on two occasions during the second quarter. The lead changed hands four times through a low-scoring third quarter.


In the final period, Hillsboro went up by three, 29-26, on a five-foot jumper by Brubacher with 5:56 to go.


But Halstead rallied and went ahead by one, 36-35, with 1:22 to play on a bucket in the paint by Zach Holub.


After Hillsboro’s Ross Duerksen tied the score with a free throw seven seconds later, Halstead began playing for a final shot. The Trojans got a break when Dragon point guard Josh Farmer was called for double-dribbling with 48 seconds left.


After a Trojan timeout with 28 seconds left, the ball came to Brubacher with about four seconds to go. The 5-9 senior faked a drive to the hoop, pulled up and shot the ball just inside the arc. It passed through the net as the buzzer sounded. The official scorer credited Brubacher with a 3-pointer.


Brubacher said Latimore’s absence didn’t tarnish the win.


“Beating the No. 1 team in the state, whoever’s playing, is a big win,” he said. “Obviously, it would have been nice to beat them full strength. But we’ll take the win.”


Knoll said his team played hard but wasn’t as sharp as it had been the previous four games.


“I think there were two factors,” Knoll said. “One, I think we had a little letdown from the great game we had against Collegiate. The other was that when we found out Dennis wasn’t playing, in the back of our minds we thought it won’t be as tough of a ball game.


“Halstead players really played hard tonight,” he added. “I thought they outhustled us at many times during the game. They played with a lot of tenacity and desire and made it tough on us all night to get any good shots.”


Brubacher, the only Trojan to break double figures, finished with 16 points. As a team, Hillsboro shot 40 percent from the field, including 4-of-10 from behind the arc.


Coming-Hillsboro played Sterling Tuesday night. Results of the contest are available today on the Free Press Free Line (947-3363) and the Free Press Web site (old.hillsborofreepress.com).


On Friday, Hillsboro travels to Ellinwood to face the 2-11 Eagles. The following day, the Trojans will host Wellington at Tabor Gymnasium.


The Trojans will travel to Lindsborg Tuesday to play the Vikings, then close their regular season next Thursday with a makeup game against Hesston on the Swathers’ home court. The Hesston game was postponed because of last week’s storm.


All the games will start at 8 p.m.

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