Hillsboro basketball fans were treated with a pair of gutsy, come-from-behind victories against Nickerson Friday night in Brown Gymnasium. The Trojan girls trailed by five points midway through the final period before pulling out a 32-28 win in the final minute to improve to 9-1. The HHS boys won, 44-43, when Jesse Allen scored in the paint with 13 seconds left, then recovered a loose ball on an inbounds play under the Nickerson basket as time ran out.
Hillsboro traded blows with a scrappy Nickerson squad all night in a defensive battle. The game was tied 7-7 after one quarter and it took a three-pointer by Maci Schlehuber with 3 seconds left in the second quarter to give HHS a 14-11 lead at halftime.
Getting six points from all-league performer Brandy Mader, the Panthers built a 24-19 lead in the third quarter before settling for a 24-22 lead at the final break.
Hillsboro started the fourth quarter by missing its first nine shots from the floor as Nicke?rson pushed its advantage to 27-22 midway through the period.
Freshman Addie Lackey finally broke the ice for Hills?boro with a bucket and bonus free throw at the 3:58 mark. After Senior Callie Serene added a free throw a minute later, classmate Allie Faul drained a huge three-pointer from the top of the key to vault HHS into the lead at 29-27 with 56 second to go.
After Nickerson misfired at the other end, Serene hit two more clutch free throws with 19.7 seconds left. Nicker?son?s McKenna Deckard made one of two free throws when she was fouled by Courtney Weber with 9.4 seconds to go. But Faul secured the win by making one of two free throws with 3.4 second left.
Eight Trojans contributed points during the game, with Faul heading the list with eight. As a team, the Trojans finished with 25 percent shooting (11-44) from the floor while limiting Nickerson (1-1, 3-7) to 30 percent success (10-33).
Jesse Allen?s heroics at the end of the game capped a night marked more by guts than grace as the Trojans and Panthers kept it close from start to finish.
The Trojans got off to a promising start with a 7-0 run in the final 1:42 of the first quarter carried them to an 11-5 lead at the first break. Josh Wiebe scored twice in the lane and Christian Ratzlaff added a basket and bonus free throw to vault the Trojans into the lead.
But Nickerson?s McCaulley Kluesner started the second period with a layup and three-pointer in the first 42 seconds to put his team into position to regain the lead, 12-11, when Quintin Crandall scored less than a minute later.
Wiebe then completed a traditional three-point play at the 5:37 mark to help HHS to a 17-16 edge at halftime.
The game nearly slipped away from the Trojans at the start of the third quarter. Hillsboro turned the ball over its first four possessions, and Nickerson made the Trojans pay for it by scoring seven unanswered points for a 23-17 lead.
But a three-pointer from the top of the key from Jarod Hamm at the 4:27 mark lit a fuse for Hillsboro. The Trojans also got a free throw from Allen and eight pointss from Christian Ratzlaff (including two three-pointers) to climb into a 31-31 tie after three periods.
After Kluesner started the final period with a couple of baskets, a three-pointer from Ben Bebermeyer and a basket by Wiebe deep in the post, put HHS in front 36-35 with 5:01 to go. The Panthers responded with a 7-4 surge — including a pair of free throws when officials whistled Bebermeyer for a technical foul for slapping the backboard on a layup by Tyler Collier.
The two teams traded occasional points before Nickerson took a 43-42 lead on a free throw by Kluesner with 33 seconds to play.
After Allen missed the front end of a one-and-one with less than 20 seconds to go, HHS got the ball back and Brett Wein?brenner launched a three. The ball bounced off the back of the rim, but Allen pulled down the rebound and scored in the paint as he was fouled with 13.1 seconds left. He missed the free throw, keeping Hillsboro?s lead at 44-43.
When Kluesner drove the length of the floor with time running out, Wiebe slapped the ball out of his hands and out of bounds just as he started to maneuver for a winning layup with 5.6 seconds left. The Panthers got the ball in bounds just inside the baseline, but the ball was jarred loose in the scramble. Allen recovered it sprawled on the floor as the final second slipped away.
Ratzlaff led HHS with 13 points while Wiebe finished with a career-high nine. Kluesner led all scorers with 25 points.
Both teams left the gym with 5-5 season records while Hillsboro improved to 2-0 in the Central Kansas League and Nickerson fell to 0-2.