The Hillsboro boys rallied from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit, but didn?t have enough firepower left to finish the comeback, losing to Halstead, 48-43, in the first round of sub-state play Tuesday at Brown Gymnasium.
The Trojans trailed 29-24 after three quarters in a defensive battle. When Halstead?s Simon McKee scored two layups off a pair of Trojan turnovers in the first 1:09 of the fourth period — including an alley-oop backdoor basket — the Trojans were down by their biggest margin, 33-24.
After a Trojan timeout, Hillsboro came back firing. Brett Weinbrenner and Jarod Hamm hit back-to-back three-pointers, Christian Ratzlaff followed with a pair of free throws, Tyrell Thiessen scored in the paint off a nice assist by Ratzlaff, and Hamm capped the 12-3 run with a basket on a drive to the hole. The game was suddenly tied at 36 with 4:10 to play.
Halstead called timeout, then quickly jumped back in front on a basket by Dakota Becker and a free throw and basket by McKee, all aided by two Trojan turnovers. With the score 41-36, Thiessen scored again in the paint but missed the bonus free throw at the 2:29 mark.
The Trojans got as close as 45-43 when Hamm hit his third three-pointer of the night with 28 seconds to go. But in the end, Halstead held Hillsboro at bay by hitting nine of 10 free throws over the final 1:46.
McKee turned out to be the different on this night, breaking loose for 26 points, making eight of 11 free-throws and shooting 9-for 19 from the floor.
Hamm came off the bench to pace Hillsboro with 14 points in his final game as a Trojan. His long-range shooting was instrumental both early and late in the contest. He hit his first two threes midway through the second period, fueling a run that moved Hillsboro from being down 13-5 to being down 18-17 with 2:31 left in the half. A three by Ratzlaff with three seconds left pulled Hillsboro to within 22-20 at intermission.
Ratzlaff finished with 10 points as the Trojans shot 39 percent from the floor (14-36), including 8-for-14 accuracy from behind the arc. Halstead made 41 percent of its shots from the floor (15-37), but held a huge advantage at the at free-throw line, going 18-for-27 compared to 7-for-11 for Hillsboro.
With the loss, Hillsboro finishes the season with an 11-10 record, an eight-win improvement from a year ago. Halstead improves to 12-9 and will play the winner of the Hutch Trinity and Lyons game Friday in the semifinals.