The Hillsboro High School boys overcame a tentative start and some questionable officiating to defeat Hesston, 52-38, in the first round of sub-state play Monday night in Brown Gymnasium.
The Trojans committed four turnovers in the first two minutes of the game and fell behind 7-0 before Nate Holmes broke the ice with a 3-pointer at the 5:15 mark.
His basket ignited a 9-0 run that carried the Trojans to a 9-7 lead as the first quarter came to an end.
Wade Weibert stretched the run to 11-0 with a basket in the opening seconds of the second quarter. But both teams struggled to score in the remaining minutes of the half. Hesston managed a a 5-1 edge to tie the game at 12 at intermission.
The Trojans, in a game that grew increasing physical, made only one of 11 shots during the period while the Swathers were only a smidge better at 2-for-11.
The game turned in the early minutes of the third quarter as Weibert got the Trojans going with a couple of stick-backs in the first 1:30 of the half.
Kyle Kroeker then drained a 3-pointer and Troy Frick and Weibert added scores in the paint to complete an 11-1 run and give the Trojans a 23-13 lead at the 4:46 mark.
By the end of the third period, Hillsboro still enjoyed a double-digit lead at 29-18.
The Swathers never got closer than nine in the fourth quarter. After a shaky start at the free-throw line, the Trojans finished strong in the charity department, make 12 of 13 free throws-six of six by Kroeker and six of seven by Hamm-in the final 2:40 of the game to claim the 14-point victory.
Weibert and Hamm tied for scoring honors with 13 points a piece while Kroeker added 12.
Unofficially, the Trojans shot 44 percent (16-36) from the field compared to 29 percent (14-49) for Hesston.
The Trojans outshot the Swathers from the line, 16-for-23 to 10-for-16.
The win improved Hillsboro’s season mark to 15-6 while Hesston finished at 8-13.
“It’s always a great win when you play an arch rival and win for the third time in the same season,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “We knew Hesston would bring everything it had.
“I was pleased with the way the guys responded in the second half of the game because the first part was absolutely unbelievable. We got a lot of good shots, we just didn’t make any.
“I thought we did a good job of maintaining our composure,” he added. “Our effort was really good all night.”