The Hillsboro basketball teams came off their week of no games ready to take on Council Grove coming to Brown Gymnasium. The Trojans girls started the night with a surprising 49-44 upset of Braves, who came in ranked No. 4 in Class 3A. The Trojan boys, meanwhile, took the first half to find some offensive rhythm, but when they did, they rolled to a 64-39 victory.
GIRLS—When the visiting Braves started the game with 15-4 burst in the first 4:07 of the game, the odds looked dim for the home team. But Hillsboro regrouped and finished the quarter with a 9-2 surge to pull within four points of the Braves at 17-13.
Both teams struggled for baskets as the second quarter began. The Trojans managed only five points in the entire quarter, but they limited Council Grove to seven points, thanks in part to seven Braves turnovers. Council Grove took a 24-18 lead into intermission.
When the Braves scored the first two baskets of the third quarter, the lead was back to 10 points at 28-18. Abby Sechrist scored Hillsboro’s only basket over the first 4:30 of the quarter. With Hillsboro trailing, 30-20, the momentum of the game began to change. Dani Klein hit a 10-foot basket at the 3:31 mark. Teegan Werth added a pair of free throws and Sienna Kaufman scored off a steal. Suddenly, the Trojans were within four points at 30-26. Council Grove rallied in the final 2:36 with a 10-3 run for a 40-29 lead after three quarters.
Simply put, the fourth quarter belonged to the Trojans, who were playing some of their best basketball of the season. Even so, Council Grove led, 44-31, after a couple of baskets by Chelsey Sales and Lauren Reddick.
But good defense translated into good offense for the home team. The Trojans benefited from six consecutive Council Grove turnovers by scoring six points, including a 3-point basket from the top of the key by Kaufman to pull within 44-37.
When the Council Grove coach was called for a technical foul, Werth sank both free throws, then Kaufman scored on Hillsboro’s possession after the free throws. When Abby Sechrist drained a 3-point basket from the wing, the game was tied at 44 with 2:18 to go.
When a second technical was called on the Braves’ coach about 2 minutes later, Werth again made them pay by hitting both free throws for a 47-44 Hillsboro lead. Council Grove didn’t score another point while Hillsboro made two of four free throws in the final seconds to secure the 49-44 upset win.
Kaufman led HIllsboro’s attack with 16 points and eight steals. Werth finished with 15 points and four steals. Hillsboro’s defense contributed to 29 Council Grove turnovers, which ultimately turned the tide of the game.
The turnovers negated the Braves’ 42 percent shooting (18-43) compared to Hillsboro’s 36 percent success (16-45). The Trojans also had a huge advantage at the free-throw line, making 14 of 22 compared to Council Grove’s three for six.
The win gives the Trojans an 8-6 record for the season.
BOYS—Hillsboro struggled to separate itself from the Braves during the first half. By the end of the first quarter, the Trojans established a 13-10 edge with Wes Shaw and Elias Werth each contributing four points. By halftime, the lead had increased marginally to 28-19.
The Trojans came out of halftime with Shaw scoring the first three points to bump the lead to 31-19. But those were the last points Hillsboro would score over the next 4:20. The Braves rallied during that stretch to pull within 31-29 with 3:59 to play.
Rathbone broke the drought for Hillsboro with a put-back at the 3:46 mark. His basket preceeded a basket by Ratzlaff and a string of three consecutive 3-point baskets, including two by Ratzlaff. By the final break, Hillsboro had lengthened its lead to 44-31.
The Trojans took charge in the final quarter with a 20-8 rush that saw five players contributing points. Hillsboro led by as much as 64-37 before the Braves hit a pair of free throws with mere seconds remaining.
Hillsboro was fueled by three players scoring in double digits, led by Shaw with 18, Werth 17 and Ratzlaff 16. As a team, the Trojans outshot the visitors, 44 percent (27-62) to 34 percent (17-50). The Braves missed all 12 of their 3-point attempts, while the Trojans nailed five of 18.
The victory improved the Trojans’ record to 12-2 for the season. Hillsboro is ranked No. 6 in Class 2A in the latest KBCA poll.
COMING—Hillsboro will host Pratt on Friday. Unconfirmed, the Greenback girls have been reported to be 6-8 for the season while the boys’ team is 5-8.