ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
In this version of Aesop’s fable, the hare woke up in time to beat the tortoise.
A physically superior Hillsboro boys’ team sprinted to an early advantage, then let a pesky Lyons squad catch up before breaking away late for a comfortable 62-43 win at Lyons Friday night.
The state-ranked Trojans jumped to a 17-7 lead after one quarter, thanks in no small part to a nine-point explosion from senior Tyler Peachey.
But the Trojans seemed to doze off in the second period. Lyons took advantage of the letdown and used three 3-pointers to pull within a single point, 23-22, with 1:11 left in the half.
A pair of Lucas Hamm free throws put Hillsboro ahead by three points at the break.
“In the second quarter, I thought we were just flat,” coach Darrel Knoll said afterward. “It’s hard to explain why. We didn’t cut, we didn’t move the ball, we maybe took questionable shots on offense-we just didn’t seem to get anything going.
“In the meantime, we’re allowing them to come off the pick and hit 3-pointers and get a little run going on us. To be quite honest, we just weren’t defending them.”
For the record, the quickness of Lyons’ five-guard lineup made them anything but tortoises.
“They presented some match-up problems for us because they ran so many guards in there,” Knoll said. “They were setting some decent screens and did a nice job of coming off their picks as well.
“Part of it was what they were doing, and part of it was what we were doing.”
Simply put, the Trojans weren’t guarding Lyons’ Blaine Clark and Kevin Sechrist very well. The pair scored 13 of the team’s 15 second-quarter points.
“We want to guard shooters a little differently than non-shooters, and we were playing everybody like a non-shooter for some reason-I don’t know why,” Knoll said. “We just need to be more alert that way.”
A basket and a pair of free throws by Hillsboro’s Ryan Jilka seemed to get the Trojans back in the race as the third quarter started.
Clark countered with another 3-pointer, but the Trojans continued their surge with six unanswered points to take a 35-25 lead with 2:17 left on the clock.
By quarter’s end, the Trojans’ lead stood at eight points, 40-32.
“I told them, ‘OK, we won the third quarter, now let’s win the fourth quarter,” Knoll said.
So they did. Convincingly.
Another 3-pointer by Peachey, this one from the left wing, ignited an 11-1 run over the first four minutes of the period to put the game away.
Derek Hamm, the Trojans’ 6-feet 4-inch post, scored eight of Hillsboro’s last 11 points.
“I thought the real key of the game was, toward the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, we started getting the ball inside and scoring down there,” Knoll said.
“They really didn’t have an answer for Peachey, and Hamm had a good fourth-quarter. Daniel (Deckert) was pretty tough down there and Jilka had some nice rebounds.”
The Trojans made 19 of their 42 field-goal attempts (45 percent).
Coming off a six-point performance in last Tuesday’s win over Ellinwood, Peachey led the attack against Lyons with 21 points, including four 3-pointers in five attempts. He also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.
“I thought he played with more confidence and really did some nice things offensively,” Knoll said.
After allowing Lyons to make nine of 16 field goals in the first half, the Trojans harassed the home team into 6-for-19 shooting in the second half. But the home team made eight of 16 attempts from behind the arc.
“I thought we picked up the defensive intensity a ton, and that’s what blew the game open,” Knoll said about his team’s late surge.
Sechrist finished as Lyon’s high scorer with 17 points while Clark added 10.
Coming-Hillsboro, now 6-1 for the season and 2-0 in the MCAA Mid Division, was scheduled to entertain Sterling (1-6) Tuesday at Brown Gymnasium. A full report of that game will appear in this week’s Free Press Extra, on newsstands late Thursday afternoon.
This Friday, the Trojans will travel to Halstead to take on the 4-3 Dragons.