HHS takes two from Nickerson in regular-season finale

Playing a makeup game with little on the line except pride, Hillsboro managed to sweep a couple of close from Nickerson Thursday night at Brown Gymnasium.

The game has been postponed in December because of bad weather. With league play now completed and seeding already determined for sub-state play next week, Hillsboro prevailed in the girls? game 40-33 while the boys escaped with a 59-54 victory.

In the girls? game, HHS led 9-5 after one quarter and then 18-15 at halftime after Dakota Kaufman completed a traditional three-point play with 32.5 seconds left.

The Trojans played a strong third quarter with Kaufman and Kassidi Luthi combining for all 11 points as Hillsboro pushed the margin to 29-21 heading into the final quarter.

But the Trojans seemed to lose some focus in the early going, enabling Nickerson to pull into a 33-33 tie with 2:00 to play. Cassie Kroeker then hit a huge 3-pointer from the corner with 1:31 to go for a 36-33 lead. Candace Weinbrenner made both ends of a critical one-and-one with 47.7 seconds left. Kroeker then forced a turnover and added a free-throw 14 seconds later for a 39-36 HHS margin. Kroeker then capped the scoring with one more free-throw with 10.8 seconds to go.

Kaufman led Hillsboro with 14 points as the Trojans finished the regular-season schedule assured of a winning season at 11-9, as did the Nickerson girls.

In the boys? game, Hillsboro led a determined Panther team 12-8 after one quarter and 27-23 at halftime. The margin was still four points — 32-28 — when Trojan big man David Loewen picked up his fourth foul with 4:37 left in the third period. When he re-entered the contest with 5:46 left in the game the Trojans were trailing 43-41.

Jesse Allen then tied the game on Hillsboro?s next possession. After Hillsboro rebounded a missed 3-point attempt by Nickerson, Jost was fouled with 3:59 to go. He made the first of two free throws, then missed the second. But in the battle for the rebound, the ball deflected off a Nickerson player and went out of bounds. HHS retained possession and Jost then scored 35 seconds later for a 46-43 margin.

It proved to be the turning point as Hillsboro maintained a 53-49 lead heading into the final minute. Jost then preserved the win by hitting six straight free-throws down the critical home stretch.

In a game where the Trojans battled foul trouble and seemed a touch out of sync all night, Jost stood tall on both ends of the court, finishing with 26 points as HHS completed its regular season with a 13-7 record while Nickerson is 9-11.

Sub-state begins next week. The sixth-seeded Hillsboro girls will travel to Remington (12-8) for a 7 p.m. ball game on Monday, then the third-seeded Hillsboro boys will play host to Marion (5-15) in Brown Gymnasium at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The semifinals and finals will be played at Marion.

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