Hillsboro boys runners-up at Trojan Classic

The Hillsboro boys hooked up with the Hesston Swathers, the No. 2 ranked team in Class 3A, in a championship-worthy showdown Saturday at the Trojan Classic. But when the smoke cleared, it was the Swathers who claimed the tournament crown with a 53-41 victory. The win bumped Hesston’s record to 12-1 for the season while Hillsboro, ranked ninth in Class 2A, slipped to 11-2.

The two teams came out wired for a hard-nosed defensive battle, and it continued from start to finish. Two baskets to start the game by Cole McCreary, Hesston’s 6-foot, 5-inch post player, signaled a mismatch the Trojans struggled to offset all night long.

Meanwhile, Hesston’s defensive quickness limited the number of open three-point attempts, particularly in the first half. But the Trojans did hit eight of 21 attempts during the game.

Hesston built an 8-3 lead halfway through the opening quarter, but Darien Ratzlaff scored in the lane for Hills­boro and Hesston point guard Zach Vogt did the same for Hesston to make the score 10-5 as the quarter ended.

Hillsboro narrowed the gap to 12-9 midway through the quarter, but Hesston launched a 10-6 surge that bumped the margin to 23-15 by halftime.

McCreary started the second-half scoring with a traditional three-point play, giving Hesston its first double-digit lead. But when Ratzlaff and Preston Loewen nailed back-to-back threes on either side of the 5-minute mark, the Trojans were within 28-23.

But once again, the Swathers surged, this time with a 9-0 run to inflate the lead to 37-23 with 2:21 left in the third quarter. The quarter ended on a last-second basket by McCreary to put the score at 39-27.

Despite their aggressive play on defense, the Trojans couldn’t draw closer than nine points during the final quarter as Hesston nailed down the 12-point win.

Werth led Hillsboro with 13 points while Ratzlaff and Loewen each added 11. As a team the Trojans made only 10 of their 40 shot attempts from the floor for 25 percent accuracy.

McCreary led Hesston with 15 points—three more than Hesston’s margin of victory. Vogt added 14 and Zach Esau 12. As a team, the Swathers hit 47 percent of their shot attempts (18-38).

Hillsboro will take this coming week off from competition but will return to action Jan. 31 when the Trojans travel to Council Grove.


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