Hillsboro and Inman squared off in a physical battle Saturday to earn the right to qualify for the Class 2A state tournament. While the Trojans set the pace in the first half, it was the Teutons who endured to the end in a 53-49 victory to qualify for a trip to Manhattan next week.
Hillsboro’s Elias Werth scored the first six points of the game with three free throws and a 3-point basket in the first 2:30. Wes Shaw scored Hillsboro’s next four baskets to give the Trojans a 15-13 as the first quarter ended.
In the second quarter, Hillsboro’s Darian Ratzlaff hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Trojans their largest lead of the night at 21-13 at the 6:43 mark. But Inman battled back with two baskets in the final 26 seconds to tie the game at 26-26 by intermission.
Hillsboro scored the first five points of the third quarter, but managed only three more points over the next five minutes. Meanwhile, Inman rallied with 13 points to take a 39-35 lead through three quarters.
Ratzlaff tied the game as the fourth began with back-to-back baskets. The two teams essentially traded shots, whether it was 2-pointer or 3-pointer.
Trailing 48-46 with 2:15 to play, the Trojans climbed back into the lead briefly when Ratzlaff scored on a drive in the paint plus a bonus free throw with 1:55 left. Those points turned out to be the final ones the Trojans would score in the game. Inman, meanwhile, hit 3-of-6 free throws, and post player Mason Thiessen scored on an inbounds play to carry the team to the final buzzer.
Thiessen, an athletic 6-foot-8 junior, was a handful for the Trojans for most of the game. He led all scorers with 23 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Also scoring in double figures for Inman were Payton Froese with 11 points and Jaxon Eddy with 10.
Ratzlaff led the Trojans with 15 points, while Shaw added 14 and Werth 13 in his final game as a Trojan.
As a team, Inman outshot the Trojans 43 percent (20-47) to 33 percent (19-53) from the floor. The two teams both shot 22 percent from behind the arc with Hillsboro at 4-for-18 and Inman at 2-for-9. Hillsboro made seven of 13 free throws while Inman nailed 11 of 16.
Inman will take a 13-9 record to the Class 2A state tournament next week while Hillsboro ends its season with a 16-6 record.