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Hillsboro take home 2A State Basketball crown

The HHS Trojans are the 2022 2A State Basketball Champions. The Trojans beat St. Marys 60 to 32 in the championship game.
Frank Wichert driving the lane against the Wichita Independent defense.
The Hillsboro Trojans celebrate after their win over St. Mary’s in the 2A Championship game.
Matthew Potucek and Frank Wichert in a full-court press against the Lyndon Tigers. Lyndon was playing a stall offense that the Trojans broke after two overtimes with a score of 37 to 28.
Matthew Potucek attacked the basket in the first quarter to help give the Trojans the early lead over St. Mary’s in the championship game.

MANHATTAN—There was little question who had the best team at the 2A State Basketball Tournament this year. The team hailed from Hillsboro, and it dominated in three games against the best competition in Class 2A in Kansas this year.

No. 2 seeded Hillsboro beat Wichita The Independent, 75-46, before knocking out Lyndon, 37-28, and then finally taking home the championship against St. Mary’s, 60-32.

In the championship against St. Mary’s, Hillsboro entered the game confident. St. Mary’s is a good basketball team, but the Trojans matched up well, and according to Hillsboro head coach Darrel Knoll, he knew his team was up for the challenge when they showed up for morning shoot around.

“I knew they were ready,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the intensity, mental focus and determination of the team in this game. We were locked in from start to finish. What a dominating performance against a really good team with lots of scoring power.”

Hillsboro started hot, outscoring St. Mary’s 18-3 in the opening quarter and eventually opening up a 31-10 lead before halftime.

The gap was too much for St. Mary’s in the second half, and the Hillsboro crowd waited in anticipation as the final minutes ticked off to crown their team champions for the second straight year.

“I am so proud of this team. Defensive intensity and great teamwork defined us,” Knoll said. “They were so much fun to coach and to watch. I often talk about competitive greatness—be at your best when your best is needed. The players on this team did that.”

In the championship game, Brekyn Ratzlaff led the way for the Trojans with 20 points, five assists, two steals, and three rebounds to cap off an amazing year. Matthew Potucek also was in double-figures with 17 points, three steals and two rebounds for the game.

Hillsboro shot 70 percent from the floor while holding St. Mary’s to just 23 percent in a dominating championship round victory.

In the previous round, Hillsboro struggled with a very strong Lyndon team but did win after dominating in double-overtime, 37-28.

“We felt fortunate to win this game,” Knoll said.

In an exhausting defensive game, Hillsboro played Lyndon to a stalemate in the first half, up 8-7 at the break.

Lyndon took the lead in the third quarter, outscoring Hillsboro 12-9, which put the Trojans down 19-17 going into the fourth quarter. Hillsboro closed the small gap before the clock went to zero and forced overtime, where neither Lyndon nor Hillsboro scored in the first quarter of OT.

Eventually, the offense came through for Hillsboro, and they outscored Lyndon 13-4 in the second overtime to secure their spot in the championship round.

“The tough thing in a game like this is that you run the risk of losing your legs defending so hard and for so long, and then when you do get the ball, it is hard to get in rhythm to take and make good shots,” Knoll said. “As the game progressed, we were really pressing ourselves on offense, so we struggled to score. I was proud of this team for finding a way to win when we had our backs against the wall. It’s a testament to the competitive character of this team.”

Grayson Ratzlaff led Hillsboro in scoring with 10 points and six rebounds. Both Frank Wichert and Potucek scored eight points in the contest, as well.

In the first round of the tournament, things came a little easier for Hillsboro, who beat Wichita The Independent, 75-46.

“It was a great first game. Playing in Bramlage Coliseum is a great experience. I was really happy with the way we handled the surroundings,” Knoll said. “It’s always tough to get past the first round in the state tournament. The guys did a great job playing to win.”

Hillsboro got up on Wichita 31-11 by half, and the margin was safe from there.

For the tournament, Hillsboro had four players make the all-tournament team: Brekyn Ratzlaff, averaging 14.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, three assists, two steals while shooting 68 percent from the field; Matt Potucek, averaging 13.7 points, five rebounds, 2.3 assists, and two steals while shooting 75 percent from the floor and from the free-throw line; Grayson Ratzlaff, averaging 10.7 points, seven rebounds, 1.7 assists, and one steal; and Frank Wichert, who averaged 10 points, four rebounds, 2.3 assists, and one steal while shooting 69.4 percent from the floor.

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