Hillsboro boys roll past Collegiate with 2nd-half surge

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Consistent play on the defense end helped the Hillsboro boys survive a shaky start on offense and propelled them to what turned out to be a 56-21 rout of Wichita Collegiate Friday at Brown Gymnasium.

The Trojans managed just seven points against the Spartans, who came into the game against the state-ranked Trojans with an uncharacteristically poor 4-15 record.

The good news for Trojan fans was that Collegiate managed only four points on 2-of-12 shooting over the same stretch.

“I thought we were a little out of sync offensively,” Knoll said. “We started different than we normally do-being ‘Senior Night,’ I think in our first three possessions we had three total passes. We were a little bit eager.

“I told the guys if we play good defense and keep ourselves in the ball game, we can come out of that. And we were able to do that.”

More patience in the second quarter resulted in more points, as the Trojans stretched their lead to 19-8 by intermission. Eric Weinbrenner chipped in five points and Kyle Jilka four to help the Trojans to the double-digit margin.

The defense helped, too, limiting the Spartans to one field goal in only six attempts.

“I felt lucky to get out of the half because they had some open looks and they missed them,” Knolls said. “They just did not shoot well. That’s the bottom line tonight.

“Part of the reason they didn’t shoot well was that our intensity on defense was pretty good-probably as well as we’ve played from start to finish.”

With the defense in top form, the offense hit full stride in the third quarter-and the Trojans blew open the game with a 17-9 advantage during the period. Derek Hamm scored six points in the first 31/2 minutes to fuel a 12-2 run that put the Trojans up by more than 20 with 4:50 to play.

“The third quarter I thought was tremendous,” Knoll said. “We did a lot of great things in the third quarter, and I thought that was the key-to come out and put the game away.”

Not content with their 36-17 led to start the final period, the Trojans came out of the blocks with an explosive 13-0 run in a little more than three minutes of play to bury any hope the Spartans may have had of making a comeback.

How well did things go for Hillsboro? When Caleb Marsh capped the run with a slam dunk attempt with 4:51 to play, the ball bounced off the rim but still dropped in on the bounce.

“If Marsh is going to try to dunk the ball, that’s the right time to do it when you’ve got a lead like that,” Knoll said with a smile.

A basket by Marsh a minute earlier had put the Trojans up by 30 points and invoked the league’s continuous clock rule for the final 5:47 of the game. Only a double technical foul called on Collegiate coach Mitch Fiegel stopped the clock before time ran out.

After their slow start, the Trojans finished with a great shooting night, making 21 of 36 field-goal attempts for a 58.3 percent showing.

Weinbrenner led the Trojans with 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 behind the arc.

Jilka, playing his last regular-season home game as a senior, finished with 11 points and made great plays on both ends of the court-including a team-high six steals on defense and a team-high seven rebounds.

“I thought Jilka had a particularly good game tonight,” Knoll said. “He hit the 3 a couple of times, was active on the glass, and took a big charge in the first half. He did a great job.

“Everybody played pretty well tonight,” the Trojan coach added. “I was very pleased with the effort out of everybody.”

Coming-Hillsboro took its 16-2 record to Haven Tuesday to take on a tough 15-4 Haven squad. A complete report of that game will appear in the Free Press Extra, which will be on newsstands later Thursday afternoon.

The Trojans are scheduled to take on the 6-10 Ellinwood Eagles in a makeup game Thursday that will complete the regular season.

Next week the Trojans will try for a berth in the Class 3A state tournament on their home court.

The sub-state pairings will be released later this week. Hillsboro will be vying with Hesston for the No. 1 seed. Through Friday, both teams had only two losses.

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