Hillsboro boys defeat Moundridge in 2A sub-state semifinals

Hillsboro boys took an early lead, expanded it to as many as 19 points through three quarters, then held off a Moundridge charge down the stretch to claim a convincing 61-50 victory Friday in the semifinals of the Class 2A sub-state at Robert C. Brown Gymnasium.

The Trojans played terrific defense out of the gate as the Wildcats missed their first six shots and committed three turnovers in the first five minutes of the game. When Caleb Potucek nailed a three at the 2:56 mark, the lead was 8-0. Darian Ratzlaff nailed a three with three seconds left in the quarter for an 11-6 lead at the first break.

Collin Kohl of the Wild­cats hit a three to start the second quarter, but the Wildcats would make only one field goal basket the rest of the period, enabling the Trojans to inflate the lead to 24-11 by halftime when Brodie Rathbone rebounded a missed shot and made the put-back at the buzzer despite a swarm of Wildcats surrounding him.

With Hillsboro leading Moundridge 32-17 midway through the third quarter, the Trojans went on an 8-0 run in just over a minute for a 40-17 lead at 2:26. Mound­ridge responded with a 2-pointer by Noah Eichelber­ger and a 3-pointer by Peyton Fast to narrow the lead to 41-22 as the quarter ended.

The final quarter turned into a foul-fest. Hillsboro made 11 of 16 charities during the quarter while Mound­ridge made 10 of 14. Hillsboro made only two field goals (Potucek and Wes Shaw) while the Wildcats scored eight. Moundridge whittled the lead to single digits at 53-44 with 2:09 left, but the Trojans held on for the victory.

Four Trojans contributed double-digit points, led by Ratzlaff with 17, Shaw and Potucek with 14 each and Elias Werth with 11. Eichel­berger led Mound­ridge with 24 and Dillon Vogts added 10.

As team, Hillsboro shot 42 percent (19-45) from the floor and 5-15 from behind the arc. Moundridge shot 33 percent (17-51) but only 5-26 from 3-point land.

With the win, the Trojans improved to 16-5 and will play Inman in the finals on Saturday targeted for a 7:30 start. The Teutons (13-8) defeated Berean Academy, 37-29, in the first semifinals game of the evening. The winner will earn a berth in the 2A state tournament in Manhattan.

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