Hillsboro, Sterling split basketball season-openers

Decisive first quarters set the tone for the season openers between the Hillsboro and Sterling basketball teams Friday at Brown Gymnasium. The Trojan girls trailed 11-2 after one quarter and went on to lose, 43-26. The Trojan boys, meanwhile, jumped to a 21-9 lead after one quarter and posted an impressive 66-53 win over a solid Sterling squad.

GIRLS—The new-look Trojan girls showed some opening-night jitters, committing 13 turnovers in the first quarter and making only one of four shots on the way to the nine-point deficit at the first break.

It took until the middle of the second quarter before the Trojans began take hold. Trailing 17-2, Hillsboro made a 9-0 run to halftime with Abby Sechrist contributing five points and Paige Proffitt and Sienna Kaufman two points each.

Hillsboro pulled as close as 25-19 when Sechrist drained another three from the wing at the 2:22 mark of the second quarter and was still in contention with a 27-19 deficit at the end of the period.

Unfortunately, the Tro­jans slipped back into struggle mode in the final quarter. Sterling went on an 11-0 run in the first 4 minutes for a 38-19 lead, stifling any hope of a home-court comeback.

Sechrist finished with 10 points and Sienna Kaufman added nine. As a team, Hillsboro shot 10-35 from the floor (28 percent) while Sterling made 15-49 (30 percent). Hillsboro made only four of 14 free-throws during the game while the visitors cashed in 11 of 23 opportunities. The Trojans committed 30 turnovers in the loss while Sterling committed 17.

BOYS—Hillsboro sent a message that this year’s Trojans will be a force to be reckoned with a 17-5 blitz­krieg of the Black Bears out of the gate, including four three-point baskets. Darian Ratzlaff hit the first three at the 6:16 mark, Joe Knoll chipped in the second at 5:40, Ratzlaff nailed the third with 2:42 left and Elias Werth capped the first-quarter scoring with a fourth three with 4 seconds remaining.

By the end of the second period, Hillsboro inflated its 21-9 first-quarter lead to a 35-14 bulge, including back-to-back threes by Werth midway through the quarter, plus two-pointer just over a minute later, for an eight-point personal run and a 29-14 team lead at the 2:47 mark. Six of eight free-throws down the stretch completed a 14-0 run by halftime.

Hillsboro came out tentatively in the second half, missing its first five shots before Carson Herbel scored at the 6:09 mark. The two teams picked up the pace, but by the end of the third period, Sterling had whittled the deficit down to 16 points at 49-36. Knoll hit one more three with 2.5 seconds left to give Hillsboro a 62-36 lead at the final break.

The fourth quarter was more or less a standoff. Sterling crept as close as 12 points at 55-43, but Hillsboro stiffened for the final 13-point win.

The Trojans finished with five players scoring in double figures: Werth and Knoll with 15 each, Ratzlaff with 14 and Herbel with 10. Sterling outshot Hillsboro from the floor, 18-47 to 17-47, but the Trojans prevailed at the free-throw line, 23-30 compared to 11-24. A total of 53 fouls were called during the contest.

COMING — Hillsboro girls and boys will compete next week at the Mound­ridge Pre-Season Tourna­ment. The Trojans will take on Lyons on Tuesday with the girls’ game starting at 4 p.m. followed by the boys’ game.

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