Trojans boys ‘run’ their way past Halstead Dragons

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Two explosive runs were enough to push the Hillsboro Trojan boys past a tough Halstead team, 62-46, Friday night at Brown Gymnasium.

The win pushed Hillsboro’s record to 8-1 heading into the Trojan Classic tournament this week.

The Trojans’ first explosion came right at the start of the game when they jumped to a 9-0 lead before the Dragons’ Justin Regehr finally scored at the 6:07 mark.

Playing with near-perfect precision, the Trojans scored five seconds after the tip-off on a lay-in by Caleb Marsh. Twenty-four seconds later, Daniel Deckert nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner, then Marsh scored another layup on a fast break for a 7-0 lead with just over a minute gone.

Marsh added one more basket in the paint at the 6:15 mark for the 9-0 margin.

Over the next four minutes, the Trojans missed their next seven shots. But Halstead could score no more than four points before Derek Hamm nailed a pair of free throws and Kyle Jilka nailed a 3-pointer and 2-pointer in an 18-second span.

A free throw by Tyler Peachey gave Hillsboro a 17-6 advantage at the first break.

The Dragons battled back in the opening two minutes of the second quarter with a 9-3 surge.

But Peachey scored on a drive to the bucket with just under six minutes to intermission, igniting a 14-1 run over the next three minutes. Peachey chipped in five of those points, Marsh seven and Jilka added a 3-pointer to make the score 34-17 with 2:49 left.

At intermission, Hillsboro led 36-21.

To Halstead’s credit, the Dragons refused to fold. They started the third quarter with an 8-2 run, but a basket in the paint by Hamm and 3-pointers by Marsh and Deckert killed the rally.

Hillsboro actually increased its lead to 16 points, 48-32, by the end of the quarter, and then maintained that margin at the end despite some ragged play.

“I wish we would have handled the fourth quarter a little better offensively,” coach Darrel Knoll said, feeling that his team rushed its shots. “I felt like we were playing like a team that was 14 points down and not the team that was 14, 15 points ahead.”

But the Trojan coach was pleased with his team’s effort and overall performance against a quality opponent.

“It was a hard-fought game and both teams played extremely hard on the defensive end,” he said. “In the fourth quarter we gave up a couple of transition baskets we probably shouldn’t have given up, but Halstead went out hard and didn’t quit. To their credit, they kept coming at us.”

The Trojans had decent success against the Dragons’ top scorer, Jordon Regehr, a 5-foot 9-inch guard who finished with only 12 points. He came in averaging close to 20 points a game.

“We got into some quick foul trouble, and had several guys guarding Regehr,” Knoll said. “We had to switch some guys on him, but were able to continue to have someone on him who kept him in check for the most part. He hit some tough runners, though. Those shots were not gimmees.”

For the game, Halstead made only 34 percent of its shots from the field (16 of 47).

Meanwhile, the Dragons found it hard to keep Hillsboro’s multi-weapon offense at bay.

Marsh finished with a team-high 18 points, while Peachey added 16 and Deckert 13. Derek Hamm scored eight points and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.

The Trojans shot a below-average 37.5 percent for the game, but did make 14 of 19 free-throw attempts.

Halstead, meanwhile, shot 34.8 percent from the field. The Dragons nailed about half of their 2-point attempts, but missed all 13 attempts beyond the 3-point line.

Coming-Hillsboro opened play Tuesday in the Trojan Classic against Sunrise Academy. A full account of that game will appear in this week’s Free Press Extra, which will be on newsstands late Thursday afternoon.

In Round 2 of pool play on Friday, Hillsboro, seeded second, will battle Thomas More Prep, seeded third, at 7:30 p.m.

The Trojans’ opponent on Saturday will be determined by the results of pool play. The game for fifth place will begin at 4:30 p.m. The third-place game is set for 6 p.m. and the championship game will begin around 7:30 p.m.

“It’s always a tough tournament,” Knoll said. “We’ve had teams playing for state championships out of this tournament. We’ll have to come to play some basketball, no doubt. But I feel we have a good shot at it.”

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