Hillsboro knocked off one of two unbeaten Sterling teams Friday at Sterling. The HHS girls tamed the previously unblemished Black Bear girls, 54-29, to remain unbeaten themselves, while the Trojan boys climbed out of a 15-point third-quarter deficit only to fall short in the end to their unbeaten opponent, 56-49.
GIRLS — The battle between two unbeaten teams appeared to be evenly matched early in the contest. Hillsboro broke a 6-6 tie with two baskets in the final 1:21 of the first quarter to claim a 10-6 edge at the first break.
But the even-handedness soon ended. After Sterling narrowed the lead to 13-10 in the first minute of the second period, Hillsboro launched an 18-2 run for the remainder of the quarter to take control of the game. Addie Lackey and Tena Loewen each scored seven points in the surge.
The Trojans continued the purge with a 15-5 run through the first six minutes of the third period to take their largest lead of the night at 48-17. With the score at 50-20 at the end of the third quarter, the fourth quarter was played with a running clock.
Lackey and Loewen finished the game with 18 points a piece to pace HHS, which came into the contest ranked No. 2 in Class 3A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. As a team, the Trojans (5-0) shot 50 percent from the floor (19-38) and made 12 of 19 free throws while the Black Bears (4-1) managed only 24 percent shooting (20-41) and 8 of 12 free throws.
BOYS — It appeared the Sterling boys would make easy work of the Trojans after taking a 24-11 lead at halftime. The Trojans managed only 19 percent shooting (5-26) through the first two quarters.
But with the score 28-13 a minute and a half into the third quarter, Hillsboro launched a comeback. Christian Ratzlaff ignited a 11-0 run with a three-point basket from the wing at the 6:11 mark. Josh Wiebe followed with a hook shot in the paint and Ratzlaff and Brett Weinbrenner each drained a three-pointer to make the score 28-24 with 4:11 left in the quarter.
The Trojans started the fourth quarter still trailing by four, 35-31, then got another three from Ratzlaff and a pair of free throws from Shaq Thiessen to give HHS its first lead of the night at 36-35 with 6:48 left in the game.
It also proved to be the Trojans last lead of the night. Sterling responded with an 8-0 run capped by a three-pointer from Jake Jaderston at the 5:20 mark. Trailing 50-40 with less than three minutes to go, Hillsboro made one last run on a three-point play by Weinbrenner, followed by a pair of free throws from Jesse Allen and a basket in the paint by Thiessen to close the gap to 50-47 with 1:40 left.
But Hillsboro missed its next five shots while Sterling responded with 6-for-8 free-throw shooting to push the margin back to 56-47 with less than 15 seconds to play.
With the win, Sterling, ranked third in Class 2A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, improved its record to 5-0 while the Trojans, ranked 8th in Class 3A by the KBCA, slipped to 3-2.