Hillsboro teams escape with tournament wins over Inman

Hillsboro’s basketball teams escaped with a couple of less than pretty victories over Inman in the second round of the Moundridge Pre-Season Tournament Tuesday night. The Trojans girls defeated the Teutons 49-39 despite 6-for-15 free-throw shooting in the final four minutes of the game. The Hillsboro boys nearly let an 11-point fourth-quarter lead slip through their fingers before posting a 44-37 win.

GIRLS — Hillsboro managed a 9-3 lead on a pair of three-point baskets by Mesa Merrell midway through the first quarter, but Inman pulled into a 9-9 tie at the end of the period with six points in the final 1:41.

When Inman took a 22-15 lead with 3:35 left in the half, the Trojans stepped up their defense, forcing Inman to miss its only shot, then commit six consecutive turn­overs. The Trojans pulled to within one point when Merrell scored in the final seconds.

Hillsboro tied the game at 24 at the 4:56 mark of the third quarter on a traditional three-point play by Rebecca Kaufman, then built a tentative 30-26 lead by the time the quarter ended.

A pair of free throws by Sienna Kaufman, a basket in the paint by Paige Proffitt and a traditional three-point play by Abby Sechrist gave Hillsboro a healthy 37-28 margin with 5:14 to play. Even though the Trojans’ free-throw shooting was sketchy down the stretch, the defense held the Teutons to 1-for-8 shooting and forced four turnovers to secure the victory.

Sienna Kaufman led the Trojans with 12 points, Callie Linnens added nine, Merrell eight and Rebecca Kaufman seven as the Trojans improved to 2-1 for the season.

BOYS — Hillsboro scored five unanswered points in the first 1:03 of the game, then managed only four free throws until before Joe Knoll drained a three-pointer from the top of the key for a 12-8 Trojan lead as the first quarter ended.

On the strength of one three-point baskets by Elliot Ollenburger and two more by Knoll, Hillsboro bumped its lead to 26-17 by halftime.

Both teams struggled to score in this defensive battle, but Inman pulled to within 32-26 as the quarter ended.

Hillsboro appeared on the verge of pulling away when Carson Herbel scored in the paint and Knoll added his fourth three-pointer at the 6:54 mark of the fourth quarter for a 37-26 bulge. But Inman didn’t back down, launching a 9-2 burst over the next five minutes to pull within 39-35 with 1:52 left.

Hillsboro missed three of six free throws down the stretch, including the front end of two one-and-one opportunities. But Knoll drained two free throws with 27 second left, Preston Loewen scored in the lane with 10 left to secure the 44-37 win.

Knoll came off the bench to lead Hillsboro with 14 points. Loewen added 11 as the Trojans improved to 3-0 for the season.

COMING—Hillsboro girls and boys could clinch their respective tournament titles if they manage to knock off the host teams from Moundridge Friday night. The girls are scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip-off and the boys’ game is projected to start at 8:30.

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