Trojan boys slay Dragons with first-half blitz

Hillsboro saved its best game of the season for a key moment in the season, as the Trojans blitzed state-ranked Halstead, 66-49, Friday at Brown Gymnasium.

The final score doesn’t reflect how thoroughly the Trojans dominated the visiting Dragons in this battle for first place in the MCAA Mid Division.

Halstead struck first blood on a pair of free throws by Ryan McKay 12 seconds into the game.

But after the Trojans missed their first three shots, Dustin Jost scored on a driving layup at the 6:03 mark that sparked a 16-1 run over the next 4:10.

All eight Trojan baskets were scored in the paint-most on fast-break layups resulting from the Trojans’ swarming full-court pressure defense.

By the time the buzzer sounded to end the first period, Hillsboro was on top 22-5 and the Dragons appeared shell-shocked as they headed for the sideline.

Their countenance didn’t improve in the next quarter.

After Steven Chisholm scored off a great feed from Tyler Weinbrenner, the Trojans’ Andy Brubacher drew a charging foul that drew the ire of Halstead coach Joe Gerber, which in return drew back-to-back technical fouls and an ejection from the officials.

Brubacher sank three out of four free throws, then Jost scored on the possession for a five-point swing and a 29-5 lead with 7:23 still showing on the clock.

The Trojans still didn’t let up. Halstead hurt itself by missing eight of 13 free-throw opportunities when Hillsboro began fouling. At the same time, the Trojans simply put on a team-play clinic and finished the half with a stunning 45-18 advantage.

“I was very pleased with our intensity level,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “We were ready to play tonight. It was as good a game as we’ve played all year-and against a good team. We just jumped on Halstead really hard, they got a little frustrated, and we didn’t let up.”

Knoll said the technical fouls called on Gerber was a key moment in the game-not so much for the immediate points the Trojans scored as a result, but because his team did not let Halstead use the incident to get back in the game emotionally.

“Sometimes (a technical) causes one team to let down and the other team to fire up,” he said. “I was a little concerned about that, but were able to maintain, and even extend, our lead a little bit.”

Equally gratifying for Knoll was how his team, despite a comfortable halftime lead, continued to play hard in the second half.

Shawn Hughbanks scored two quick baskets in the paint on some great feeds to set the tone. Halstead matched those two baskets. But when McKay, the Dragon’s 6-8 post player was whistled for his fourth foul with 5:10 left in the quarter, the Trojans started another offensive surge that pushed the lead to 59-28 by quarter’s end.

A bucket by Kyle Jilka to start the final period gave Hillsboro its biggest lead of the night at 61-28.

“The third quarter was important because we won that quarter,” Knoll said. “We were able to finish out the game-not as well as I’d like to, but I thought it was important to start the third quarter like we did.”

As good as the Trojans looked on offense, Knoll was quick to praise their defense.

“We played hard defense,” he said. “They didn’t get any good looks from the outside. I don’t know that people have played them quite as hard on the ball as we played them tonight. I think that took them by surprise a little bit. They’ll be more ready next time for that kind of thing. But it was just a great effort defensively.”

On a night when the whole team shone, Tyler Peachey was the brightest star. The Trojans’ sixth-man came off the bench to score 18 points, pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds and played hard on defense as well.

“I thought he gave them match-up troubles,” Knoll said. “McKay was matched up on him and couldn’t really guard him outside.

“When (McKay) came out on him, Peachey just took him to the hole. “

Brubacher also broke double digits for Hillsboro with 12 points, including five of six free throws.

As a team, the Trojans shot just under 53 percent from the field, helped by numerous layups off the fast break.

“I think we’re getting a lot more consistent,” Knoll said about his team. “We finished well around the basket tonight. We used the glass a lot better, we took better shots. In the half court, I thought we were a lot more patient tonight. We penetrated at the right time. It wasn’t forced so much.

“Hopefully some of that hard work is paying off and we’ll continue to play this way.”

The win gave the Trojans a 7-2 mark for the season and a 4-0 record in the Mid Division.

Sterling-The Trojans didn’t take winless Sterling lightly last Tuesday, and came away with an impressive 64-31 win.

Steven Chisholm scored 12 points and Andy Brubacher 11 to lead a balanced Trojan attack.

A complete report of the game appears in the Jan. 16 Free Press Extra, which is on local newsstands until late Thursday afternoon.

Coming-Hillsboro kicked off its Trojan Classic week Tuesday with a game against Marion. Results of that game are available on the Free Line (947-3363) and the Web (

A full report of the Marion game will be published in this week’s Free Press Extra.

On Friday, the Trojans will take on Thomas More Prep at 7:30 p.m. Hillsboro will then play on Saturday. The time and opponent will be determined.

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