Both Hillsboro basketball teams made it through the first round of the Trojan Classic on Tuesday night, but took very different paths to reach the semifinals. The Trojan boys had their hands full against the 4-5 Goodland Cowboys, and escaped with a 50-47 win when a potential game-tying three-pointer missed at the buzzer. Meanwhile, the No. 1 seeded Trojan girls used defensive pressure to run away from Republic County, 47-23.
? BOYS — The No. 2 seeded Trojans led for much of the game but never could put the Cowboys away until the final buzzer, thanks to Goodland?s solid shooting from behind the arc and in the paint.
The Trojans led 13-10 after one quarter only because Jordan Faul hit a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer from about 20 feet out. Goodland quickly launched a 7-0 run to take the lead at the start the second quarter. Hillsboro regained the lead, but Goodland took it back at 22-20 with 3:37 left in the quarter. A 6-0 run by Hillsboro in the final 2:05 — on two-point baskets by Brett Weinbrenner, Evan Ollenburger and Avery Franz — put Hillsboro up by 26-22 at halftime.
A 9-2 Trojan surge coming out of halftime seemed to put them safely in command at 35-27. But Goodland rallied and whittled the margin to 37-34 by the time the third quarter ended.
The game came down to the final minute. With Hillsboro leading 46-44 with 57.5 seconds to go, Goodland quickly fouled the Trojans three times to put them at the foul line. The plan seemed to backfire when Weinbrenner and Ratzlaff combined for four straight points and a 50-44 lead with 35 seconds to play. But Goodland drained a three seven seconds later to climb within three points. Wein?brenner drew another foul, but the usually sure-shooter missed the front end of the one-and-one.
Goodland rebounded, then called a timeout with 10.3 seconds to play, trailing 50-47. It was clear the Cowboys would put the game in the hands of their hot three-point shooters. But Hillsboro coach Darrel Knoll told his players to foul the Cowboys before they could shoot. The first foul took the clock to 7.1 seconds, the second foul to 4.5 seconds. The Cowboys did get off an unbalanced shot at the buzzer, but it caromed harmlessly away.
Christian Ratzlaff led the Trojans with 20 points and Weinbrenner finished with 10 as Hillsboro improved to 10-1 for the season while Goodland dropped to 4-6.
? GIRLS — This was the second game in a row where it became clear early that Hillsboro would be the dominant team. The Trojans made four of their first five shots for an 8-0 led at the 4:42 mark of the opening quarter. Hillsboro led 12-4 by the end of it.
By halftime the Trojans were well in front, 27-9, even though the offense was off-and-on throughout the half. Hillsboro?s defense more than made up for it, allowing the Buffaloes only one basket in 12 shots through the first two quarters, while forcing them into 15 turnovers.
The second half of the game was mostly a formality as the Trojans wrapped up the 24-point win. Coach Nathan Hiebert, who subbed frequently and deeply already in the first half, cleared the bench for good after the Trojans rolled up a 46-18 lead midway through the final period.
For the game, the Trojans allowed only five Republic County field goals and 29 shots. The remainder of the scoring came on free throws.
Lackey led the Trojans with 18 points and Alex Ratzlaff added 11 as the Trojans improved to 10-1.
NEXT — The Hillsboro girls will return to action at 7:30 p.m. Thursday when they take on undefeated Riley County in the semifinals. The Trojan boys will wait until 7:30 p.m. Friday to play their semifinals game against undefeated Holcomb.