Hillsboro set to defend their state basketball title

The Trojans had a great season last year after winning state, and while they lost some great players to graduation, they return with many key players still on their roster.

“We do expect to complete at a high level again this year. Every year, we have the same goal: play up to our potential and be great teammates. We also look to improve on what we did last year, which includes become tougher defensively, execute better offensively, and be our best with things we can control. If we do that, we should be very competitive again this year,” said Coach Darrell Knoll, who begins his 34th year as head coach at Hillsboro High School.

The team has five solid returning starters.

“We five players who started and/or played significant minutes last year as well as three others who gained good varsity experience last year. We have good athleticism, quickness, and speed, and several players have the ability to score, so we will be very balanced offensively. Keys will be staying healthy, developing depth, and having excellent team chemistry. We do have several younger players who will battle for a spot on the varsity roster so our practices should be competitive as well,” said Knoll.

Senior Grayson Ratzlaff has won several honors including 2021 CKL All League 2nd Team, 2A All State: 2nd Team Sports in Kansas, 3rd Team; The Wichita Eagle Honorable Mention: The Topeka Capital Journal & KBCA.

“Grayson played in several games his freshman year, and he was injured his sophomore year and did not play. However he has developed into an outstanding player who should have an excellent senior season. A match-up problem for opponents because he plays inside and out. Defends the basket well and cleans up key rebounds, especially in late game situations. A highlight film maker with his multiple dunks. Smart competitor. Plays to win and contested shots and cleaned up boards at the end of multiple games, including the State Final,” said Knoll.

Senior Matthew Potucek has also won several honors including CKL All League 2nd Team, 2A All State: Honorable Mention, Sports in Kansas, The Wichita Eagle, The Topeka Capital Journal, KBCA. Potucek was also 2020 CKL Honorable Mention and received several 2A State honors in 2020. His career stats are: 2pt% 54.5% (297-545) 11.1 PPG, 5.0 Rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.8 steals and his PPG=5.9 freshman year, 14.9 sophomore, and 11.8 junior year.

“Matt played a lot the last 9 games his freshman year and in 19 overall games. He has started the last 2 years. He is an athletic, tough and hard-nosed competitor who is an excellent defender who can guard any position. He is also hard to defend, and he is a playmaker both on offense and defense. A true winner,” said Knoll.

Brekyn Ratzlaff started at point guard both his freshman and sophomore years.

“He is an excellent point guard who makes everyone around him better. Smart on both offense and defense. Brekyn is a tremendous passer, big shot maker, and a true competitor. He has great poise and basketball IQ. He should be a top point guard this year,” said Knoll.

Seniors Frank Wichert and Duncan Duell add much to the team as well.

“He is athletic, great competitor, can score in bunches, offensive rebounder, and an outstanding teammate. We are looking for Frank to have an excellent season,” said Knoll. “Duncan Duell brings energy and enthusiasm. A very good defender, rebounder and tough competitor who adds depth to our team. We are looking for Duncan to have an excellent season. We are looking for each of these players to add depth to our team this year. Each of them completes hard, are solid defenders, have good offensive skills, and are really good teammates.

Other key returning players include Jaxxon Hanschu, Tyson Plenert and Jacob Thiessen.

“Our schedule should prepare us for post-season play. The CKL always provides multiple tough matchups. Also, our mid-season tournament usually matches us up teams like Holcomb, Riley County, and Hesston. In addition, our non-league opponents are solid with teams like Southeast of Saline, Sterling, Hutch Trinity, Moundridge and Inman, just to name a few.”

The Trojans get started on Dec. 3 at Sterling.


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