Hillsboro ended the regular season on a sour note as both the girls’ and boys’ teams let opportunities for victories morph into losses at Smoky Valley on Tuesday. The Trojan girls led by two points early in the fourth quarter only to lose 55-48. The turnaround for the boys was much more dramatic. They led 46-30 heading into the fourth quarter, but ended up losing 70-60 in overtime.
GIRLS — The 5-14 Trojans knew they had a chance for a sixth victory this season against the 6-12 Vikings — and played like it at the start. Hillsboro built a 7-0 lead before the home team finally scored its first points 5 minutes into the contest. Hillsboro led 11-5 when the first quarter ended and actually pushed the lead to 22-14 by halftime when Trinity Malm hit a free throw and a basket in the lane and Rebecca Kaufman drained a three-pointer with 33 seconds left.
The third quarter turned into the Katie Bella show. The Viking senior scored 13 points in the period to help pull her team into a 34-34 tie by the end of it. Bellah added two more free throws in the fourth quarter to give her team a 38-37 lead — then promptly fouled out with 6:27 left in the game.
It appeared Bellah’s early departure was the open door Hillsboro needed to secure this much-needed victory. But her teammates stepped up, canning 12 of 14 free throws over the final 5:30 to secure the win while limiting the Trojans, over that same stretch, to one of three free throws, two baskets by Sienna Kaufman and a three-pointer by Savannah Unruh.
The Trojans finish the regular season with an 0-10 record in the Central Kansas League and a 5-15 record overall.
BOYS — Hillsboro’s collapse in the final quarter was all the more dramatic because it appeared at that the start that the Trojans would win going away. Smoky scored the first basket, but the Trojans stormed back with a 10-0 run on two three-pointers by Darian Ratzlaff and two-point baskets by Carson Herbel and Elias Werth. Werth added a three-pointer a little over a minute later to make the score 13-2. By the end of the opening quarter, Hillsboro led 20-7, and by halftime bumped the lead to 33-18.
It became clear fairly early that the third quarter was not going to be like the first two. After Herbel scored the first points 13 seconds into the quarter, Smoky Valley went on an 8-0 run that finally ended when Herbel drilled a three from the top of the key at the 3:30 mark. That basket, in turn, sparked a 11-4 Trojan surge that made the score 46-30 as the quarter ended.
So what happened in the final quarter? The biggest thing was Smoky’s Nick Reinert went crazy — to the delight of Viking fans. The senior guard exploded for 17 points in the final period — making four baskets and eight of nine free throws. Herbel gave Hillsboro its last lead, 56-55, when he scored in the lane and added a bonus free on the foul. Reinert hit the game-tying free throw with 33.1 seconds remaining. Hillsboro managed only one basket attempt down the stretch and Reinert missed an off-balance three-point shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
By that point, the Trojan team that started the game was all but unrecognizable. Werth finally scored for Hillsboro on a deep three-point basket with 53 seconds remaining, but by then the Vikings had rolled over the Trojans with a 9-0 run.
Hillsboro finishes the regular season with a 14-6 record overall and a 7-3 record in the CKL. Smoky Valley improved to 13-7 for the season.