Late third quarter run propels Hillsboro past Marion

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro boys used a 10-0 explosion in the final two minutes of the third quarter to propel themselves to a 55-41 win over a never-say-die Marion team Friday at Brown Gymnasium.

Hillsboro didn’t take the lead for good until Kyle Kroeker scored with 7:31 left in the second quarter to put the Trojans on top 15-14.

A bucket by Tim Funk, followed by back-to-back 3-pointers by Macy Fadenrecht and Lucas Hamm, created a 10-point run that had the Trojans leading 23-14 at the midway point of the second quarter.

Seven points by Travis Hett in the final 3:30 of the first half helped the Warriors stay within seven points, 28-21, at intermission.

“The first half, I thought we played really hard, defensively,” Hillsboro coach Darrel Knoll said. “But we just made some errors on the offensive end. We missed like three layups-six points is pretty big. And we had trouble knocking down our free throws (late in the second quarter).

“Those kind of things can make a lot of difference. Those are little things we’re still working on. But it was a really good effort.”

The pivotal third quarter started as more of the same-Marion hanging close enough to be dangerous. When Josh Kelsey and Hett each made a pair of free throws back-to-back midway through the period, the Warriors were within six points at 32-26.

Then Kroeker lit the fuse with a 16-footer at the 1:56 mark and followed that with a pair of free throws 16 seconds later after a steal and a foul. Hamm added a pair of free throws with 51 seconds left, Wade Weibert followed with a basket in the paint 11 seconds later and Kroeker finished off the run with another steal and layup with 13 seconds to go.

During the run the Warriors managed only one shot on goal, a miss by Hett.

“In the third quarter, I thought we came out a little flat,” Knolls aid. “I’m not sure why we weren’t moving (on offense), but we still got defensive stops.

“Luckily, we came out of it toward the end of third quarter. We got some good looks, got it inside and moved the ball much better. That was major for taking control of the last quarter.”

The competitive standoff that characterized most of the contest returned in the final quarter. A 10-5 run by Marion over the first 3:08 pulled the Warriors to within 52-31 at the midway point, but a basket by Fadenrecht sparked an 8-6 Hillsboro advantage down the stretch.

Three-pointers by Hett and Calvin Jeffries accounted for Marion’s points.

“I thought we handled the fourth quarter a little better tonight,” Knoll said. “We had one stretch where they hit a couple of 3s and cut into our lead, but we didn’t just pass the ball around and not look to score. We made some nice plays down the stretch to maintain the lead.”

Kroeker ended the night as Hillsboro’s leading scorer with 20 points. Hamm added 15 and Weibert 10. As a team, the Trojans shot 53 percent (18-34) from floor and made 15 of 21 free throws.

Hillsboro had a 29-16 advantage in rebounding, with Hamm pulling down a team-high nine.

Scoring honors for the gam went to Travis Hett with 24 points. He was the only Warrior to break double figures.

“I was a little surprised we let him get open, because he was the one we were trying to focus on, not allowing him to spot up,” Knoll said. “Somehow we got bumped off there, but we’ll work on that.”

As a team, Marion shot 36 percent (14-39) from the floor and made eight of 13 free throws.

The win improved Hillsboro’s record to 10-3 for the season and 3-1 in the Mid-Central Activities Association while Marion fell to 4-8 and 2-2.

Coming-The Trojans were to play host to a tough Halstead squad on Tuesday. A full report of that game will appear in this week’s Free Press Extra.

On Friday, Hillsboro will travel to Sterling to take on the Black Bears (2-11, 0-4).

Marion was scheduled to play host to Smoky Valley on Tuesday and will travel to Nickerson (7-5, 3-1) on Friday.

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