Hillsboro hoops teams split outcomes at Sterling

The Hillsboro basketball teams opened the 2017-18 season at Sterling on Friday night and came home with a split decision. The Trojan girls, with a mix of upperclassmen and freshmen, suffered a 57-25 loss in a game that ended with a running clock.

Meanwhile, the Hillsboro boys had to battle tooth and nail to claim an 80-76 victory against a talented Black Bear team.

GIRLS—Sterling established an 8-2 lead two minutes into the contest and built a 19-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. Junior Trinity Malm contributed four points and senior Sienna Kaufman nailed a three-pointer to fuel the Trojan offense.

With the Trojans shooting 1-for-7 from the field and 2-for-7 from the free-throw line in the second quarter, Sterling was able to inflate its lead to 36-13 by halftime.

Malm scored the first basket of the third quarter, but the Trojans committed 10 turnovers in their next 11 possessions. When freshmen Kinsley Kleiner and Dani Klein each scored a basket in the final 42 seconds of the period, the home team was ahead 51-19.

The running clock kicked in for the entire fourth quarter, but the Trojans played Sterling to a 6-6 standoff for the final 57-25 score.

Kaufman led the Trojans with nine points and Malm added eight.

BOYS—A 28-point performance from senior Elias Werth, plus unexpected contributions from senior Brodie Rathbone and junior Caleb Rempel, enabled the Trojans to secure a hard-fought victory.

Rathbone, making his first start at HHS, scored 13 points, including two critical free throws that secured the victory with 10.8 seconds left in the game. Rempel, meanwhile, was hot from behind the arc, hitting four 3-pointers in the game, including one that he banked off the backboard from the baseline.

Hillsboro got off to a fast start as the game began, and led 19-6 when Werth hit a 3-pointer at the 2:29 mark. However, the Black Bears awoke from hibernation and reeled off a 10-0 run to close the gap to 19-16 as the quarter ended.

The two teams more or less traded scores during the second period. With Hillsboro leading 37-33, Rempel hit his third 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Trojans a 40-33 lead at intermission.

The Trojans never trailed in the game, but the Black Bears made it uncomfortably close. By the end of third quarter Hillsboro was hanging on to the slimmest of leads at 54-53.

Rempel’s fourth 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter gave Hillsboro a 57-53 lead. When Sterling pulled to within one point again at 57-56, Hillsboro launched a 10-4 surge for a 67-60 lead with 3:02 to play. Over the final 2:18, the Trojans hit 11 of 13 free throws, including Rathbone’s two game-clinchers at the very end.

In addition to Werth’s 28 points, Hillsboro got double-digit scoring from Rathbone and Wes Shaw with 13 points each, plus Rempel’s 12 points. Darian Ratzlaff chipped in nine.

Coming—Hillsboro’s teams will compete next week at the Moundridge Pre-Season Tournament. The Trojans will face Lyons on Tuesday, Inman on Thursday and Moundridge on Friday.