Hillsboro boys battle their way into sub-state finals berth

Osage City overcame Hillsboro’s 12-point first-half lead on the strength of its 3-point shooting, but it was the Trojans who came from behind to win the game 72-64 on pure mental toughness down the stretch.

The third-seeded Trojans looked sharp from the start and crafted a 19-7 margin by the end of the first quarter. But the second-seeded Indians lived up to their high seed, cutting Hillsboro’s lead to 31-22 at halftime, then turning loose the long-range artillery with seven 3-pointers in the second half to make a game of it.

By the end of three quarters the score was 49-47, Hillsboro, and then Osage City took its first lead at 51-50 on a trey with 7:05 left in the game. The Indians still led 53-50 when Lucas Hamm scored a traditional three-point play with 5:43 left to tie the game.

After the Indians missed a pair of free throws, freshman Daniel Jost stepped up big with a pair of charity tosses with 4:40 to play to make the score 59-55, Hillsboro.

Osage City tied the score one last time on consecutive baskets, but Hillsboro responded with five straight points to take a 5-point lead into the final two minutes.

The Indians made one of two free throws to pull win three points, but a basket by Kroeker on a great feed by Troy Frick, followed by a basket by Jost on a fast break following a defensive rebound, gave Hillsboro a 68-60 lead with 48.2 seconds to play.

Osage drained one more 3-pointer with 36 seconds left but Frick scored two free throws and a basket in the final 14 seconds to give Hillsboro its 72-64 victory.

Kyle Kroeker scored 20 and Lucas Hamm 19 to lead the Trojans, but 10 points from Frick and nine from Macy Fadenrecht gave the Trojans a huge lift.

The win improved Hillsboro’s record to 16-6 for the season and put them into the sub-state finals at 7:30 Saturday against the winner of the Halstead-Northern Heights game.

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