Peachey’s shooting plus team defense propels Trojan boys

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro got a burst of firepower from Tyler Peachey at the start of the game, then hounded Smoky Valley into submission Friday night, 65-45, at Brown Gymnasium.

The senior guard scored 13 of Hillsboro’s first 15 points, including three straight 3-pointers. Even so, the Vikings weathered the barrage and trailed only 17-10 by quarter’s end.

The Trojans’ pressure defense harassed the Vikings into 2-for-10 shooting in the second quarter, but it also gave them opportunities at the free-throw line. Hitting seven of eight opportunities, Smoky trailed only by eight, 31-23, at intermission.

As has been the case more than once this season, the Trojans took control in the third quarter.

Still leading by eight, 36-28, at the 3:55 mark, the Trojans turned on the gas at both ends of the floor, holding Smoky Valley to a pair of baskets while getting points from five players en route to a 46-32 lead by quarter’s end.

“I thought our defensive pressure was tremendous, especially around the middle of the third quarter,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “We had opportunities that we missed early in the third quarter to really blow it out wide open.”

The fourth quarter was all Hillsboro as the Trojans went on a 14-2 run through the first five minutes and built a commanding 60-34 lead.

Peachey, who was relatively quiet through the middle quarters, scored six more points and Kyle Jilka added four to pace the attack.

At that point, Knoll substituted freely, and the Trojan finished with a 20-point victory margin.

Peachey finished with a career-best 23 points, on 10-of-11 shooting from the floor, including three of four behind the arc.

“He was really shooting well tonight,” Knoll said. “I thought he shot with confidence and made good decisions.

“I thought he played a much better game tonight than he’s been playing,” he added. “Part of it came because we passed the ball better as a team. We screened for each other and moved the ball. It’s easier to shoot well when you’re getting open looks.”

Though their offensive production was solid, with five and seven points, respectively, it was the defense of Aaron Yoder and Caleb Marsh that shone the brightest. Yoder picked off a team-high five steals while Marsh grabbed four.

“I thought we kept the defensive pressure up all night,” Knoll said. “Yoder and Marsh just hounded those guys. They didn’t have a good look all night.”

This was the first varsity start for Yoder, who stepped in for Derek Hamm. The Trojans’ 6-4 post player had sprained his ankle against Hesston on Tuesday.

“Because of Derek’s ankle, I knew I wasn’t going to start him,” Knoll said. “I just felt good about Yoder’s speed. I thought matchup-wise, maybe we could put a little faster team on the floor and it might be to our advantage-and I think it was.

“He played a great game tonight,” Knoll added. “I thought he came to play. Yoder’s really done a nice job the first three games, but maybe hasn’t gotten as many minutes. I think he earned himself some more minutes tonight.”

Knoll also praised the play of freshman Lucas Hamm and sophomore Macy Fadenrecht, who made their first varsity appearances.

“Lucas and Macy gave us good minutes when we needed them,” Knoll said. “The whole bench played great tonight.”

As a team, the Trojans hit 24 of 46 field-goal attempts for 52 percent shooting-despite a chilly 4-of-15 behind the arc. The Trojans shot shot much better from the line-making 13 of 18-than they did in the loss to Hesston on Tuesday.

The Vikings, meanwhile, made only 17 of 42 shots from the floor for 41 percent, and hit 11 of 14 free throws. Kyle Hubele led the team with 14 points and Ryan Dumars added 10.

Knoll was pleased with the play of his 3-1 Trojans heading into the holiday break.

“I feel like we’re coming around,” he said. “I thought tonight was the first night that we’ve really looked like we’re doing what we need to do. That’s a good feeling.

“If we can get Eric (Weinbrenner, out with an injured wrist) back, I think we’re going to be a real good team by the end of the year.”

Hesston-Luke Simmering’s 15-footer with three seconds to play gave Hesston a 42-40 win over Hillsboro in last Tuesday’s battle of state-ranked rivals in Hesston.

A complete report of Tuesday’s game appears in the Dec. 18 Free Press Extra, which is on newsstands through Thursday afternoon.

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