HHS senior Christian Ratzlaff takes a jump shot over the Hesston defense.
Boys Basketball—It truly was a Trojan Classic for the Hillsboro boys basketball team, who won the home mid-season tournament handily after defeating Eureka, Holcomb and Hesston to claim the title for the first time in at least a decade.
Against Eureka, the Trojans wrecked the visitors, 99-22, in an absolute drumming on both offense and defense. Hillsboro forced 30 turnovers, scoring 49 points off those turnovers.
Among many highlights from this game, the most impressive was a Matt Potucek rebound and full-court outlet pass that ended with a Grayson Ratzlaff dunk—one of four dunks on the night.
Grayson led the team in scoring with 25, while Brekyn Ratzlaff, 21 points; Tyson Plenert, 20 points; and Matthew Potucek, 15 points; were all in double-figures as well.
Things were only slightly closer in Hillsboro’s next match-up with Class 3A No. 7 ranked Holcomb. The Trojans rolled to a 64-40 victory after starting the game on an 18-6 run. Holcomb never recovered.
“We were intense and alert and made it tough for Holcomb to run their offense and made a really good team struggle the entire game,” Hillsboro head coach Darrel Knoll said.
Brekyn Ratzlaff led the team with 26 points, and Grayson Ratzlaff chipped in 15 points to lead Hillsboro in scoring.
Things were tougher against Hesston, but Hillsboro still walked out with a double-digit victory over a league rival, winning 39-29 in a defensive battle.
“I loved the atmosphere in Robert C. Brown Gymnasium,” Knoll said. “The fans were intense.”
Hillsboro took that energy from the crowd and turned it into a 15-8 run to start the championship game before taking a 21-13 lead into halftime.
Hesston made up some ground in the third quarter, but Hillsboro held the Swathers to just three points in the final quarter to seal the victory.
“We knew it would take great defense to defeat Hesston and that we had to be smart on offense to limit their ability to score in transition,” Knoll said.
Brekyn Ratzlaff led the Trojans offensively again, this time with 16 points. He was the only Hillsboro player in double-digits on the night.
“I was impressed with his leadership offensively, especially in the fourth quarter,” Knoll said. “He did a nice job communicating and controlling the pace. He also hit 5-6 free throws down the stretch which helped seal the win.”
The win over Hesston gave Hillsboro their first Trojan Classic Tournament Championship in about a decade. Knoll said he thinks the last one was in 2012.
“Everyone was locked-in. It was a great team win against an outstanding team,” he said.
Coming—Hillsboro will compete next at Smoky Valley on Feb. 1.
HHS Senior #12 Sammie Saunders with a layup against the Hesston defense.
Girls Basketball—It wasn’t the Trojan Classic the Hillsboro girls basketball team envisioned, as they went 1-2 in the mid-season tournament last week, losing to Hesston, then beating Riley County, and then losing to Holcomb in the fifth-place game.
Hesston was a tough first-round draw for Hillsboro, as they have played an incredibly difficult schedule, and their record doesn’t reflect how good the team is. They finished third in the tournament, despite going in with a losing record.
Hillsboro lost to the Swathers, 40-27. Hesston put Hillsboro in an early hole, 12-7, and led at halftime, 20-11. Hillsboro clawed back in the second half but wasn’t able to overcome the deficit.
Savannah Shahan led Hillsboro with 17 points and was the only Trojan in double-digits in the game.
Hillsboro bounced back against Riley County in the second round, beating them 43-29. The Trojans played them close early but went on an 11-4 run in the second quarter to take an 18-11 lead into halftime.
They built on their lead each quarter of the second half and earned the victory.
“I felt like our girls responded well and brought better execution and ball movement,” Hillsboro head coach Nathan Hiebert said. “It was really nice to pick up another win after a tough and physical loss to Hesston on Tuesday.”
Zaylee Werth was also back after missing the previous game and contributed 11 points for Hillsboro. Shahan led the Trojans with 15 points and seven rebounds.
In the fifth-place game, Hillsboro struggled to find a rhythm and only shot 19 percent for the game, losing, 41-24.
“It was a combination of taking a few quick shots and then not getting a lot of ball movement,” Hiebert said. “Having back-to-back games and with an evening-to-morning game, it did not appear we had as much quickness.”
Hillsboro got in a first-half hole, 18-11, and wasn’t able to climb out of it in the second half.
“Our goal is to get some rest, continue to work on movement on offense and bring the defensive intensity,” Hiebert said about the team going forward after the tournament.
Coming—Hillsboro will play at Smoky Valley on Feb. 1.
Junior HHS Wrestler Lane Rogers faces off against his Douglas opponent at the tournament in Eureka on Saturday. Rogers placed third in the 182 weight class bracket.
Senior HHS Wrestler Eli Dalke wrestles at the Eureka Tournament on Saturday in the 160 weight division.
Wrestling— The Trojans came in at seventh place out of 25 teams on Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Eureka Invitational.
Head coach Scott O’Hare said, “The Eureka Invitational is always a great test for our team. There are several solid wrestling teams that attend and most weights are very deep with solid, talented wrestlers. This year was no exception. Although a few brackets were thinned out with scratches due to illness and injury, overall it was still a very competitive tournament.”
Tristan Rathbone took first in the 170-pound weight class, improving to 24-2 on the season and earning his 72nd career pin, tying Nicholas Mueller for the most career pins in program history.
“Rathbone earned his third tournament championship of the season with another strong performance.” said O’Hare. “However probably the performance of the tournament was by Junior Lane Rogers with his third place finish, including a big win in the consolation finals over Cal Kohlmeier of Chase Co. This was a statement win by Rogers, who has had a pretty solid season already. We are hopeful that this win will be a catalyst for his confidence heading down the stretch.”
Rogers is currently 16-5.
“Senior Garrett Helmer had another solid showing with a third place finish, causing him to be 22-4.
The finalists in his bracket are both former 4A State placers,” said O’Hare.
Helmer took third in the 152-pound weight class.
“Our young, less experienced wrestlers struggled against the higher level competition but continue to gain valuable experience in these tournaments. Our more experienced wrestlers competed pretty well overall, and all four of them that earned medals finished strong by winning in the medal round. It was nice to see sophomore Anthony Fickes battle back from an early round loss to finish fifth, including earning a win over his Fredonia opponent that he had lost to back in December at the Marion Co. Dual tournament,” said O’ Hare.
Coming—Hillsboro will compete on Thursday, Jan. 27, at home against Council Grove.