The regular season ended on a sour note for both Hillsboro High teams Thursday night (Feb. 21). The girls lost their finale 39-29 while the boys dropped a 67-54 decision after leading 36-29 at halftime.
In the girls’ game, the Trojans struggled offensively but competed well on the defensive end. The score was only 4-4 after one quarter, but a 6-2 mini-surge by the Vikings late in the second quarter gave them a 15-10 lead at intermission.
After three quarters, Smoky had bumped the lead to nine, 28-19. Then, with Rhys Pihl tossing in seven of her game-high 17 points, the Viking maintained their lead through the final period.
Dakota Kaufman scored 13 points to lead Hillsboro, who finished the season with a 9-11 mark overall and a 6-5 record in league play.
For the Hillsboro boys, it was a tale of two halves. With David Loewen all but unstoppable in the paint, the Trojans led 17-15 after one quarter and then 36-29 by halftime. Loewen had 18 points by the break.
In a key development late in the half, Clay Shewey, the Trojans’ leading scorer and biggest outside threat, went down with the ankle injury and did not return in the second half.
But just as significant, the Vikings came out in a zone defense in the second half that seemed to befuddle the Trojans. Smoky Valley scored 12 unanswered points through the first 4:14 of the third period. Loewen then scored seven points for Hillsboro to help the Trojans pull to within three points at the final break, 47-44.
But the Smoky pounding low on Loewen, the Trojans simply did not have an effective outside threat through most of the second half. Spencer Brown stepped into that role to some degree, draining a pair of 3-pointers midway through the final period — the second one bringing Hillsboro to within four points at 58-54 with 1:36 to play — but nobody else stepped up as the Trojan stumbled to the end of their regular season.
Loewen finished with a season-high 27 points for Hillsboro. Shewey had 10 before his injury. The loss dropped the Trojans’ record to 11-9 and 7-4.
The fifth-seeded boys begin post-season play Monday with a 7 p.m. game at Southeast Saline. The fifth-seeded HHS girls will play their first-round game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Marion.
Hillsboro will host the semifinals and finals at Brown Gymnasium Thursday through Saturday.