One was a blowout and the other a battle, but in the end the ?W? was all that mattered as the Hillsboro Trojans swept the Nickerson Panthers on the road Friday night. The No. 1 ranked Trojans girls rolled to a 10-0 season record (2-0 in the Central Kansas League) with a 56-24 victory, while the boys? 51-48 win was in doubt until the final buzzer. With the win, the HHS boys improved to 7-3 for the season and evened their league mark at 1-1.
GIRLS – Their offense wasn?t exactly a thing of beauty, but the Trojans used their beastly defense to pound the Panthers.
Nickerson traded blow for blow with Hillsboro in the first quarter, thanks in large part to the offense of senior Ashley Almquist, who scored all but one of her team?s 10 points. Mean?while, HHS got points from five different players to lead 13-10 at the first break.
But when Almquist was forced to the bench because of foul trouble, the Panthers? offense disappeared with her. The Trojans limited Nickerson to a total of three points through the next two quarters. Hillsboro led 26-12 at the half and 41-13 after the third period.
Although the game?s outcome was already decided, Almquist returned to action to start the fourth quarter and promptly scored six points in just over a minute. The Trojans regrouped, and limited her to only one more basket the rest of the way.
When Courtney Weber sank a pair of free throws to make the score 50-19 with 4:38 to play, the continuous clock kicked in for the fifth time this season.
Addie Lackey paced the Trojans with 11 points and added several steals and assists. Callie Serene and Tena Loewen each scored nine points.
BOYS — Hillsboro accelerated its defensive pressure in the second half to turn a 25-21 deficit at intermission into a 40-35 lead heading into the final quarter.
Hillsboro missed its first three shots of the third quarter, but then launched an 8-2 surge to take the lead with 5:18 left in the period. The two teams traded baskets until Shaq Thiessen broke a 35-35 tie by hitting a three-pointer at the 1:00 mark. He then scored in the paint on a nice assist from Jesse Allen to give Hillsboro its five-point lead as the quarter ended.
Nickerson climbed back into a tie when Quintin Crandall hit a pair of free throws with 5:00 to play. Brett Weinbrenner responded with a basket and Josh Wiebe added a pair of free throws to bump the lead back to four with 4:14 to go.
Nickerson made one last run when Austin Phillips scored in the paint, then added a pair of free throws with 1:27 left to pull the Panthers to within 49-48. With Hillsboro running some clock, senior Jesse Allen was fouled with 36 seconds to go and calmly swished both ends of a critical one-and-one.
After Nickerson missed a shot on the other end, Allen was fouled again with 24.5 seconds to go. This time Allen missed the front end of the one-and-one. Nickerson rebounded and Ryan O?Toole launched what would have been a game-tying three-pointer, but the ball bounced off the rim. Nickerson rebounded, but Allen stole the ball in the final seconds to secure the win.
In the first half, the Trojans struggled to find its rhythm on offense while being whistled for fouls on the defensive end. The Panthers were in a one-and-one situation less than a minute into the second period. They went 6-for-7 from the line in the second period and 7-for-9 for the half. Though the game was physical on both ends, the Trojans didn?t a single free throw the entire half.
Allen led HHS with 13 points. Weinbrenner finished with 12, with 10 of his points coming in the second half.
COMING – Hillsboro will play next when the teams take the home court for the first game of the Trojan Classic next Tuesday. The No. seeded girls will play No. 8 seeded Goodland (0-6) at 4:45 p.m. The boys? team will play next at 6:30 p.m. HHS is seeded third and Goodland (2-4) sixth.