Hillsboro opened play Tuesday night in the 21st annual Trojan Classic basketball tournament and, as has been the case most nights this season, came away with mixed results. The No. 7 seeded Trojan girls lost to No. 2 Republic County, 41-27, while the No. 4 Hillsboro boys knocked off No. 5 Riley County, 51-40.
GIRLS — The Trojans came on strong against the Buffaloes in the first quarter, but faded as the game went along. Hillsboro trailed 3-0 through the first four minutes, but scored some easy baskets off steals to lead 10-7 as the quarter ended.
When Rebecca Kaufman scored at the 7:32 mark of the second quarter, Hillsboro led 12-9. But the Trojans didn?t score again until Brooklyn Wiens nailed a 16-footer with 1:07 left, putting Hillsboro on the short end of an 18-14 score at halftime.
The Trojans outscored the Buffaloes 7-4 to start the third quarter, but Republic County reeled off seven unanswered points to take a 29-21 lead at the final break.
A 2-for-8 shooting performance by Hillsboro in the fourth quarter enabled the Buffaloes to enlarge the final margin to 14.
The Buffalo defense limited Alex Ratzlaff to a season-low 10 points as the Trojans dropped to 3-7 for the season. Marah Franz contributed a career-high seven points.
Hillsboro?s next game is slated for a 3 p.m. start at the Tabor College gymnasium. They will face Sunrise Academy, who lost to Clay Center, 41-26.
BOYS — Hillsboro turned in a schizophrenic performance in their game against Riley County. The Trojans played perhaps their best half of the season while building a 30-9 lead by halftime, but turned in one of their worst halves before a modest fourth-quarter revival enabled them to hold on for the 11-point victory.
Hillsboro overwhelmed the Falcons through the first two quarters, using tough defense and a 17-point performance by Micah Allen to go into halftime with the 21-point lead, 30-9. Five Trojans contributed points in the half as the Trojans made 11 of 17 shots.
Nobody contributed points in the third quarter. Literally. The Trojans were shut out for the first time in memory to the tune of 13-0. Hillsboro missed all nine of its shots from the field and turned the ball over three times as the Falcons closed the gap to 30-22 as the quarter ended.
For a brief but shining minute of the fourth quarter, Hillsboro recovered its firepower. Preston Loewen and Elias Werth hit back-to-back threes, then Loewen followed with a layup for an 8-point burst over a span of 55 seconds. Hillsboro led, 38-25, at the 6:08 mark.
But the Trojans slipped back into third-quarter mode until the 2:34 mark, when an Allen layup launched an 11-7 surge to the final buzzer. Hillsboro made nine of 10 free throws in the final 1:26 to keep the Falcons grounded.
Allen finished with 26 points for the night as Hillsboro improved to 7-3. The Trojans will play top-seeded and undefeated Holcomb (10-0) in the semifinals at 8:25 p.m. in Brown Gymnasium. Holcomb defeated Clay Center, 74-44.
OTHER GAMES — In the other games, Hesston boys defeated Republic County 67-20 and the Bennington Boys edged Sunrise Academy, 40-38. The undefeated Hesston girls blasted Flint Hills Job Corps, 78-2, and Riley County defeated Holcomb 54-43.