Hesston claims two wins at Hillsboro

The Hillsboro boys gave the top-ranked team in Class 3A a run for its money Friday night, but the Swathers held off the Trojans’ upset bid, 51-44, at Brown Gymna­sium. In the early game, the 10th ranked Swather girls pulled away from the Trojans with a 57-22 victory that ended with a running clock during the fourth quarter.

GIRLS — The Trojans played a competitive first quarter against the athletic visitors. When Mesa Merrell hit a three-pointer at the 4:19 mark Hillsboro led 6-5. But Hesston finished the quarter with a 10-2 run for a 15-8 lead. Merrell scored all eight Trojan points in the period.

Hillsboro managed only three made free throw through the first 6:32 of the second quarter, while Hesston cashed in for 13 points over the same stretch. Merrell hit a three at the 1:24 mark but Hesston led comfortably by halftime, 33-14.

The Swathers pushed the margin to 40-14 before Merrell hit her fourth three-pointer of the game with 5:34 left in the third quarter. By the time the quarter ended, the Swathers had qualified for a running clock in the final quarter with a 52-21 lead.

Merrell easily was the Trojans’ high scorer with a career-high 17 points. Only three other Trojans contributed points and none scored more than three. As a team, Hillsboro shot 7-25 from the field (28 percent).

Driving the Swathers, meanwhile, were Kailey Jo Ince with 16 points, Celbi Richardson with 15 and Abby Weber and Elise Kaiser both with 10. The Swathers shot 47 percent (20-43) from the floor to raise their season record to 15-4 and a 9-1 mark in league play. The Trojans dropped to 5-14 and 0-9.

BOYS — Having lost to Hesston by 12 points in the championship game of the Trojan Classic less than a month earlier, the Trojans were on a mission at the start. Hesston scored the first basket, but Hillsboro responded with a 10-0 run that lasted until the Swathers scored a free-throw at the 2:54 mark. The Trojans led 16-10 lead when the quarter ended.

Carson Herbel scored a layup off a pass from Darian Ratzlaff 20 seconds into the second period to push the lead back to eight points. But the Trojans did not score again until Herbel scored a basket in the paint with only eight seconds left in the period. The drought enabled Hesston to pull into a 20-20 tie at intermission.

Hillsboro was leading 26-24 with 5:06 to play in the third quarter, but stepped into another scoring drought that lasted until Herbel scored a basket at the 1:34 mark. As time ran out in the quarter, Hesston led 35-33.

Preston Loewen took the lead back for Hillsboro when he nailed a three-pointer 19 seconds into the final quarter. Unfortunately, Hesston scored the next five points and never trailed again. The Swathers led by as much as eight points with 1:38 to play before nailing down the seven-point victory.

The Trojans were victims of the Swathers’ two-guard Zach attack. Zach Esau scored 19 points and Zach Vogt added 17 to lead the team. Ratzlaff finished with a team-high 16 points and Werth added 11 to lead Hillsboro.

Hesston is now 18-1 for the season and secured a perfect 10-0 record to win the Central Kansas League title. Hillsboro suffered its second loss in league play with seven wins, and slipped to 14-5 for the season.

COMING — Hillsboro will compete the regular season Tuesday when the Trojans travel to Lindsborg to take on Smoky Valley.