Wellington a quick cure for Trojans’ woes at Ellinwood

An odd Saturday game against Wellington proved to be the perfect antidote to whatever poisoned the Hillsboro Trojans boys’ team during their disheartening loss to Ellinwood the previous night.

Playing with renewed confidence and executing well on both ends of the floor, the Trojans crushed the Class 5A Crusaders, 65-40, at Tabor Gymnasium.

“We came out and played a lot harder all the way around,” coach Darrel Knoll said afterward. “Overall, I thought everybody played with a little more focus and desire and passion tonight. It looked like we were here to play basketball, unlike last night.”

Senior Garrett Call, getting a chance to start in the last regular-season home game of his career, scored the first points of the game on a drive to the hoop with a minute gone.

Hillsboro was ahead 7-0 before the Crusaders scored with 5:19 to play in the quarter on a bucket by Luke Bylar, who finished with a game-high 22 points.

The Trojans led 14-4 by the end of the quarter and 30-19 at halftime.

Hillsboro broke the game open with a 22-8 advantage in the third quarter, scoring several buckets on some sharp passing off the fast break.

“We moved the ball well and made some shots, but I think what really got us going was when we threw in that little half-court trap,” Knoll said about the third-quarter surge. “Call did a nice job of forcing them into some tough passes, and then we were able to get the ball and go.”

Sophomore Tyler Weinbrenner finished the game with a team-high 11 points on a perfect 5-for-5 night from the floor, including a 3-pointer. He also had three assists.

“I thought Weinbrenner gave us some spurts where he really ran the lanes well,” Knoll said. “Several times he made great passes at the end for the finish.”

Knoll got production from all five seniors he started. Jeremy Loewen finished with nine points, Call eight, Grant Brubacher seven, Michael Hagen four and Nathan Fish three.

“For a final senior game, I thought Garrett Call played as well as he’s ever played,” Knoll said. “I was really happy for him.”

The win improved Hillsboro’s record to 12-6 for the season.

Ellinwood 53, HHS 35

Reminiscent of the strange interlude endured earlier this season at Chase County, Friday’s game at Ellinwood could have been titled “Return to the Twilight Zone.”

Playing again in a gym where they’ve had trouble in the past, combined with inconsistent officiating and shots that just wouldn’t drop, the Trojans were upset by the cellar-dwellers of the MCAA Mid Division, 53-35.

“We never play well in this gym and we didn’t get one break all night,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “When you don’t shoot the ball well, compounded with a bunch of other stuff, the bottom line is you’re going to be in trouble.”

Even with sub-par shooting, the Trojans stayed with Ellinwood through the first half. Hillsboro led 10-6 after the first quarter and trailed only by two at intermission, 24-22.

But the Trojans’ shooting touch went from cool to frigid in the second half as frustration mounted. Hillsboro managed only one field goal in the entire third quarter and found themselves trailing at the break, 34-24.

Tyler Weinbrenner hit a 2-pointer and 3-pointer in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter to keep Hillsboro in the game at 38-29. But the Trojans managed only one more field goal the rest of the way-a basket in the paint by Michael Hagen with 2:00 to play.

Meanwhile, Ellinwood didn’t score a field goal after the 6:26 mark-but didn’t need to, either. The Trojans gave the Eagles 13 points on 22 free-throw opportunities in the final minutes, including a 10-of-12 stretch over the last 2:08.

For the game, the Trojans shot 29.5 percent from the field-including 2-of-16 from behind the arc-and 7-of-17 from the free throw line.

“Somehow we weren’t focused the way we needed to be tonight, and because of that we got beat,” Knoll said. “No matter what happened with the breaks we got, the bottom line is that if we had made some free throws, we could have been close enough to have at least made a run at it.

“Nobody played well,” he added. “I

wouldn’t say we didn’t play hard, we just

didn’t play well.”

Ten players scored for HHS, but Nathan Fish was high-point man with only six points. The Trojans finished Mid Division play at 4-4.

HHS 51, Sterling 29

Four 3-pointers from Nathan Fish in the third quarter and excellent second-half team defense broke open a close game and propelled the Trojans to a 51-29 win over Sterling Tuesday night in Brown Gymnasium.

Coming off a 16-15 Trojan halftime lead, Hillsboro’s Grant Brubacher nailed a 3-pointer to start the third quarter. But Fish took charge from there.

Over the next three and a half minutes, the senior guard, who came into the game shooting under 13 percent from 3-point land, buried four straight to give Hillsboro a commanding 31-16 advantage with 3:23 left in the period.

“I finally got some confidence back in me, and shot the ball like I knew I could make it,” Fish said. “It was a real big game.”

Coach Darrel Knoll agreed.

“Fish really played well tonight, especially that third quarter,” Knoll said. “He got his shot down and played pretty decent defense and did a nice job.

“I’m happy for him that he had the game he’s been looking for,” Knoll added. “I hope he’s gained some confidence and can continue to hit the wide-open threes whenever we get them.”

Hillsboro started slowly. Sterling led 6-0 before Fish broke the ice with a 3-pointer with 2:31 left in the opening quarter. Michael Hagen’s traditional three-point play with 1.4 seconds on the clock gave the Trojans their first lead, 8-6.

A 7-0 run midway through the second period put the Black Bears back on top, 13-10. After Brubacher and Tyler Weinbrenner hit baskets to give Hillsboro a one-point edge, Chris Schneider scored for Sterling. But Brubacher’s two free throws with 4.8 seconds left in the half put Hillsboro in front for good.

Fans will remember Fish’s barrage as the difference in the game, but patience on the offensive end set up the wide-open shots, and tough defense on the other end made the points stand up. The Trojans surrendered only one field goal during the first 12:47 of the second half.

“Really, I thought Sterling outplayed us the entire first half,” Knoll said. “In the second half, I thought we did a great job of adjusting.”

Fish’s five 3-pointers gave him a team-high 15 points for the night. Brubacher added 14.

Coming-Hillsboro was to play Smoky Valley yesterday. Results should be available today on the Free Line (947-3363) and the Free Press Web site (old.hillsborofreepress.com).

On Thursday, the Trojans travel to Hesston to take on the state-ranked Swathers at 8 p.m. The game will conclude the regular season for both teams. Sub-state play will begin Monday.

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