Hillsboro sweeps Nickerson for the second time this season

Hillsboro celebrated its return to league play Tues?day night with a pair of wins over Nickerson for the second time this season. The Trojan girls got 19 points from Tassanee Sanchez in a 55-38 victory while the Trojan boys pulled away in the final minutes to post a 67-56 win that was much closer than the final score indicates.

GIRLS — The Trojans got off to a strong start, rolling up a 13-4 lead by the end of the first quarter with the help of nine points from Sanchez. But the senior also picked up her third foul in the final 35 seconds, sending her to the bench until halftime.

Her absence showed. After a traditional three-point play by Abby Sechrist and a layup by Alex Ratzlaff in the first 1:30, the Trojans managed only five points the rest of the quarter on 2-for-7 shooting while committing six turnovers. The Panthers closed the gap to 23-18 by halftime.

Sanchez returned for the second half and scored off an inbounds pass 10 seconds into the third quarter. But this time her teammates stepped up in a big way in what turned out to be a 21-point quarter. Six Trojans contributed points and the team made nine of 15 shots from the floor. Defensively, the Trojan limited Nicker?son to seven points on 2-for-12 shooting and led the Panthers 44-25 when the quarter ended.

Nickerson never made a serious run at the Trojans in the final quarter as the Trojans broke a three-game losing streak with a 17-point victory that improved their record to 9-5 for the season.

For the game, Hillsboro shot 40 percent from the floor (21-53), though only 3-for-19 from behind the arc. Nickerson shot 27 percent (14-52) with two threes in 11 attempts. Ratzlaff also made it to double figures with 10 points and had a team-high five assists.

Hillsboro improved to 9-5 for the season and 4-1 in Central Kansas League play while Nickerson dropped to 4-9 and 1-4.

BOYS — Hillsboro had its hands full for three and a half quarters against a hot-shooting Nickerson team. The Panthers made eight of the nine shots they launched in the first quarter while Hillsboro managed only five of 14 attempts, giving the visitors a 19-14 lead at the first break.

The Trojans stepped up their game in the second quarter as Preston Loewen and Darian Ratzlaff combined for all 15 of Hillsboro?s points before Elias Werth scored for the Trojans with 26 seconds left in the half. It was enough to vault the Trojans into the lead by a point, 32-31, at intermission despite 76 percent shooting (12-16) by the Panthers for the half.

The Trojans got off to a quick start in the third quarter when Carson Herbel scored on a layup and Austin Cross added two free throws and a basket in the paint in the first 1:48 to take a 38-31 lead. But Nickerson didn?t roll over. The Panthers made only three of their 10 shots from the floor in the quarter, but still managed to pull within range as the quarter ended on the short end of a 44-39 score.

Nickerson made a serious run as the final quarter began, outscoring the Trojans 9-2 through the first 3:06 to take a 48-46 lead. Hillsboro committed three turnovers and managed only one field goal during Nickerson?s rally.

With the Panthers leading 50-48, the tide turned suddenly. Loewen ignited the late rally with a three-pointer at the 4:13 mark and the Trojans finished the game with a 19-6 run to victory.

Loewen finished with a season-high 19 points with 3-for-5 shooting from two-point range, 3-for-4 from behind the arc and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. Ratzlaff added 16 points and Cross 12. As a team, the Trojans shot 46 percent (24-52) for the game, but Nickerson was just as accurate (22-48). The Panthers were led by Austin O?Toole with 19 and Cody Casey and Braden Stewart with 11 each.

The win improves Hills?boro?s record to 11-3 for the season and 4-1 in the Central Kansas League. Nickerson slipped to 4-9 and 2-3.

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