The Hillsboro boys battled well for two quarters, but the Hesston Swathers, ranked No. 5 in Class 3A, pulled away in the second half for a 58-28 victory.
Despite a shaky start?four turnovers in five possessions?Hillsboro held its own against the Swathers at the outset. Hesston managed a slim 11-8 lead after one quarter, but when Micah Allen nailed a three-pointer 13 seconds into the second quarter, the two teams were tied at 11.
But with Hesston?s Scott Duerksen tossing in Hess?ton?s next eight points over a 2:20 span, the Swathers claimed momentum and a 19-13 lead. By halftime, the margin was 26-17 after a 7-0 run in the final 3:11.
?We battled really hard,? coach Darrel Knoll said of the first half. ?For the most part we did a good job cleaning up the boards, made some shots, and if a couple of things had gone our way it could have been a tie game at the half.?
The Trojans? hope for an upset against the Central Kansas League leaders slowly disintegrated during the third quarter.
Hillsboro was within 30-22 when Preston Loewen scored at the 3:13 mark. But the Trojans couldn?t buy another basket and committed three turnovers, enabling Hesston to close the quarter with a 10-0 run.
?I thought we started the third quarter playing pretty hard. We were missing shots and had some turnovers, but we were hanging between eight, 10 points. Suddenly at the end of the third quarter, it just went out of nowhere.?
The Swathers finished with an 18-6 performance in the fourth quarter. The final 50 seconds were played with a running clock when the lead hit 30 points.
?I think their depth wore us down, and I didn?t think anything went our way down the stretch?and we didn?t make it go our way,? Knoll said.
Hillsboro and Hesston both shot in the 40 percent range for the night, but the telling difference was the number of shots. The Trojans managed only 29 while the Swathers put up 50.
Likewise, Hesston made 13 of 15 free throws while Hillsboro made only eight trips to the line and hit four. Hesston committed a mere two turnovers, Hillsboro was whistled for 15.
The Swathers improved to 17-2 for the year and 10-0 in the Central Kansas League, while the Trojans slipped to 9-10 and 3-7 with their fifth straight loss.
Haven?Fueled by its first consistent shooting night for a while, Hillsboro was in position to capture a rare victory on Haven?s home floor.
The Trojans had just taken a 54-53 lead on a basket by Grant Knoll with 4:14 to play when the Haven Hex reared its ugly head. Knoll was called for fouling Haven?s Rian Bontrager on a three-point shot.
Upset with himself about the play, Knoll yelled out. An official immediately called a technical foul on the senior.
Bontrager made two of three free throws on the shooting foul, teammate Tim Hendrix?son made one of two free throws on the technical, then Mike Eash hit a pair of free throws after he was fouled when the Wild?cats were awarded possession of the ball
The 5-0 swing put Haven on top, 59-55, with 3:45 to go.
Hillsboro had plenty of time to recover, but instead began to unravel. A couple of missed shots, a pair of turnovers and suddenly the Trojans trailed 65-57 with 1:51 to play.
Preston Loewen hit a three with 39 seconds left, but it was the only shot among seven that dropped for Hillsboro during that fateful four-minute stretch.
The 69-61 loss undermined an otherwise solid night for the Trojans.
Hillsboro led 19-15 after the first quarter, with Micah Allen chipping in eight points. Haven whittled the margin at halftime to two points, 32-30.
David Dick had a big night on offense, hitting two of his four three-point baskets within a 1:20 span during the third quarter to tie the game at 38. Haven led at the end of the quarter, 48-46.
Coming?Hillsboro (9-10, 3-7) will complete the regular season Tuesday when the Trojans host Sterling (12-7, 6-4) at Brown Gymnasium.
Currently, it appears the Trojans will be the No. 4 or 5 seed at the Hesston sub-state tournament next Tuesday and likely will play Hutchin?son Trinity in the first round. Tuesday?s games may determine the location of the game.
Official brackets will be released Wednesday.