Great first half carries Trojan boys past Eagles

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
A brilliant first half carried the Hillsboro Trojans through a less-than-stellar second half en route to a 67-59 win over Ellinwood Friday night in Brown Gymnasium.

The win, coupled with Halstead’s loss to Collegiate on Friday, gave the Trojans a share of the Mid Division title with a final 6-2 mark and raised their season record to 16-3.

The boys put together one of their more impressive halves of the season to start the game. Tyler Weinbrenner nailed three 3-pointers and added a traditional three-point play at the end to fuel a 20-12 lead by quarter’s end.

Layne Frick and Weinbrenner contributed consecutive three-point plays late in the second quarter as Hillsboro pushed its lead to 40-20 by halftime.

“I thought we had a great team effort in the first half, said coach Darrel Knoll. “People on the bench were cheering for each other and were playing well together.”

The second half took on a distinctly different flavor, though. The Trojans hit only four of 16 shots in third quarter while giving up three 3-pointers and 11 points all together to the Eagles’ Troy Reade.

By the end of the quarter, the Trojan lead had dwindled to eight points.

“A lot of it was we didn’t convert on offense, which gave them momentum,” Knoll said. “It wasn’t that we took bad shots. It was just two-passes-and shoot, so we didn’t get any offensive boards like we got the first half.”

The Eagles pulled as close as five points, 57-52, with 3:53 to go. But the Trojans managed to stop the bleeding, thanks in large part to six crucial points off the bench by junior Steven Chisholm and then six straight free throws over the last 1:33 by senior Ross Duerksen.

“It was a great thing that Chisholm stepped up in the last quarter,” Knolls aid. “Offensively, he was getting the job done for us.”

Chisholm down-played his performance.

“I just went in to play,” he said. “There really wasn’t a standout player tonight. We all gave it our all.”

Weinbrenner led the Trojans in scoring with 19. As a team, the Trojans shot nearly 57 percent (21 of 37) in front of the arc, but only 23.5 percent (4 of 17) behind it.

“We walk away from this game encouraged, but knowing that we’re still not there yet,” Knoll said. “The bottom line is we’ve got to be able to play hard-nosed basketball for more than 16 or 20 minutes. We’ve got to play for 32 minutes if we want to have a chance in post-season.

“But I still think we have a team that has a great chance of finishing at the end of post-season. We have just as great a chance as anybody.”

Sterling-It would be tempting to blame Hillsboro’s 65-61 upset loss to Sterling last Tuesday on questionable officiating. But the hard truth is the Trojans had numerous opportunities to prevail anyway and didn’t get it done.

The Trojans had overcome some lights-out shooting-or their own defensive lapses, depending on one’s perspective-by Sterling guards Dallas Schnurr and Dustin Galyon to take a 55-44 lead with 3:43 left in the game.

But over the last 3:08 in regulation, the Trojans:

n gave up two more 3-pointers to Schnurr, who had scored 21 points in the first half and finished with 30.

n lost starters Ross Duerksen and Tyler Weinbrenner to fouls-with Weinbrenner picking up his last three, including two offensive calls in the final minute.

n committed two costly turnovers;

n scored only two points;

n watched as Andy Brubacher shot and missed a potential 3-point game-winner from the right wing with four seconds left.

The Trojans’ frustration continued into extra period. This time Galyon, who finished with 21 points, nailed an early 3-pointer to give the Black Bears the lead and a psychological edge.

Meanwhile, the Trojans made only two of six free-throw attempts, scored one field goal on a breakaway steal and layup by Steven Chisholm, but missed two shots inside 15 feet in the last 17 seconds of the game, including one from the baseline by Dustin Jost with four seconds left.

“Nothing went our way at the end of the game and they got momentum,” a subdued coach Darrel Knoll said after the game. “When a team gets momentum, it’s almost impossible to stop them. We just didn’t handle ourselves the way we needed to tonight. We didn’t do the stuff we needed to finish the game.”

With Schnurr and Galyon scoring all but one of Sterling’s points in the first half, the Black Bears led 31-26 at intermission.

Hillsboro came back with a 20-point third quarter, including eight straight points by Brubacher midway through the period that lifted the Trojans into the lead for the first time in the game, 41-37.

Hillsboro led 46-42 heading into the final period and got five points by Weinbrenner and four by Layne Frick to establish its 55-44 advantage before Sterling began its comeback.

For the game, Hillsboro turned the ball over 17 times to Sterling’s 10.

“There’s no doubt we panicked a little against their press and didn’t handle it as well as we are capable of doing,” Knoll said. “I think we tightened up and were just unsure of ourselves.”

Weinbrenner finished with 17 points and Brubacher 13 to lead the Trojans, who, as a team, shot a respectable 51 percent from the field. At the line, though, the Trojans were 8-of-18.

One thing the Trojans did well was rebound. They pulled down 33 boards to 17 for Sterling. Layne Frick was responsible for a season-high 13 for Hillsboro.

Coming-The Trojans finished their regular season schedule against Smoky Valley Tuesday night. The results of that game are posted on the Free Line (947-3363) and the Web (old.hillsborofreepress.com.)

The Trojans will begin sub-state play at 7 p.m., Monday, at Brown Gymnasium. Their first-round opponent will be named Wednesday. Check the Free Line and Free Press Web site for game details.

Should they win, the Trojans will complete sub-state play at Lyons later that week.

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