SIDELINE SLANTS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOE KLEINSASSER
Another basketball season, another year of great basketball by Hillsboro basketball teams.

n The Tabor College men’s basketball team had a rather strange, albeit very successful season. They won the KCAC and finished second in the KCAC tournament. The one thing they didn’t do was win a non-conference game.

They went 14-4 in the KCAC, 2-1 in the KCAC tournament, and 0-11 in non-conference games-including one national tournament loss.

It’s not unusual for Tabor to lose most of its non-conference games, because they traditionally play a tough non-conference schedule.

But it’s very unusual to lose them all. You could argue that part of the reason was that the Bluejays best all-around basketball player, Tyson Ratzlaff, wasn’t available early in the season due to the length of the football season.

Congratulations to Don Brubacher for winning yet another “Coach of the Year” award in the KCAC, and congratulations to the Bluejays for winning the conference championship.

— The Tabor women came within an eyelash of having a breakthrough season. They finished a solid fourth during the conference season, and narrowly lost to conference champion Sterling College on the road in the KCAC tournament.

If Tabor had won that game, they would have hosted Ottawa University for the tournament championship. You have to tip your cap to Ottawa for winning the conference tournament while playing multiple road games.

The women’s program is in good shape. Coach Rusty Allen and his players have built a good foundation. The big challenge will be taking the next step up the ladder.

— The Hillsboro High School boys had another outstanding season. I don’t know of anyone who enjoys playing for third place after losing in the semifinals, but finishing third two years in a row in the Class 3A state tournament is nothing to sneeze at.

What are the odds that Hillsboro would play and beat Riley County two consecutive years in the consolation game? It’s not much consolation when you lose the last two games of the season.

Perhaps that’s the most unfortunate aspect of the consolation game.

Hillsboro has added to its remarkable run of state tournament appearances during Coach Darrel Knoll’s tenure.

The HHS girls didn’t make it to state, but they threw a scare into a talented Hesston team in sub-state action. Coach Becky Carlson’s team improved as the season went along, and that’s usually a sign of a well-coached team.

— How would a very good Class 3A team like the Hillsboro boys do against Class 5A and 6A competition? After officiating games involving predominantly Class 4A to 6A teams, I think it’s fair to say that Hillsboro would hold its own.

The win over Salina Central showed that the Trojans can play with the bigger schools. The main difference is that the weaker Class 5A teams are still much more competitive than the weaker Class 3A teams. Hence, the Trojans would lose a few more games if they played a steady diet of Class 4A to 6A teams.

— In the “When is a compliment a compliment?” department, the Free Press editor recently sent an e-mail to congratulate me on my selection as a Class 6A state tournament official.

The e-mail said something like, “Why is it the bigger schools get the best officials? Oh, that’s right. They got you instead.”

— The school with the “most appropriate sign” award goes to Andover Central High School. They have a room clearly marked that all officials can find. The sign simply says “Officials.”

Just in case that’s not clear enough, they’ve also spelled it in Braille. I love it. Lest you think they’re picking on officials, all of their signs include Braille markings.

— Overheard while officiating a consolation game in the Class 6A state basketball tournament: “Is this the best the state can do for Class 6A officials?” I wanted to respond, “No, they’re reffing later today.”

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