ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro Trojans boys used their pressure defense and a quick start in the second half to put away a scrappy Wichita Collegiate squad, 57-42, on a snowy Friday in Wichita.
Hillsboro held the Spartans to a single basket through the first 3 minutes 45 seconds of the game and posted a 14-2 lead with four Trojans contributing points.
But Collegiate got back-to-back 3-pointers from Adam Bakri to pull within six points at 14-8 with 3:10 left in the opening period.
The two teams battled evenly from that point through the end of the half. Hillsboro still led at intermission, 25-18, despite a 1-for-12 shooting spell to start the second quarter.
The Trojans finally gave themselves some breathing room with a 6-0 run to start the third quarter. Tyler Peachey hit back-to-back buckets for Hillsboro and Kyle Jilka added a third score before Collegiate coach Mitch Fiegel called a timeout with 6:42 on the clock.
The Trojans didn’t lose that double-digit lead until Grant Mitchell hit a 3-pointer for Collegiate to start the final period. But seconds later, Caleb Marsh countered with a 3 of his own from the right wing.
The Trojan defense didn’t allow another Spartan field goal the rest of the way until Scott Buess scored on a steal and a layup with only 48 seconds to play.
“What a tremendous defensive effort,” coach Darrel Knoll said of his team’s play. “We contested almost everything they did-and we took care of the boards well.
“There are a few things we need to work on, but for this time of the season, I’m really pleased with our defense.”
The Trojans’ hustle contributed to 19 Spartan turnovers and Hillsboro held a 40-to-25 edge in rebounds. Jilka and Peachey pulled down 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively.
The Trojans also registered 14 steals with Marsh taking five.
Adding to the accomplishment was that Hillsboro was playing without starting point guard Eric Weinbrenner, who injured a wrist in practice during the week and is projected to be out of action until at least Jan. 5.
“We miss a lot without Eric, but we know we still have a solid team,” Knoll said. “Peachey is capable of handling the point. Caleb is playing outstanding this year. (Aaron) Yoder comes in and gives us really good minutes. (Derek) Hamm, once he starts making those shots inside that he’s going to make, (has been effective inside). Dan (Deckert) does just a really good job. These guys are just good.”
Picking up the offensive slack for Weinbrenner, who scored a team-high 16 points in the season opener, was a balanced attack from Knoll’s five starters. Peachey and Deckert scored 12 points a piece, Hamm added 10, Jilka nine and Marsh eight.
As a team, the Trojans made 23 of 53 shots from the field for 43.4 percent while holding the Spartans to 36 percent accuracy.
“Offensively, we did a nice job of cutting and passing the ball,” Knoll said. “At times we looked really good.
“I thought we got a little tired down the stretch and didn’t quite have our legs for free throws, and, offensively, we just quit cutting,” he added. “It wasn’t because we didn’t want to. I think we just got caught standing a little bit because we were just so tired.
“They play so hard, and we had to play really tough,” he said. “I was really pleased with the effort we had tonight.”
Coming-The Trojans took their 2-0 record into Hesston Tuesday for another tough matchup with the undefeated Swathers. A report of that contest will appear in this week’s Free Press Extra, which should be on newsstands by late afternoon Thursday.
Hillsboro finishes its pre-Christmas schedule on Friday with its home opener against Smoky Valley. Game time should be about 8 p.m.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF