HHS boys fourth in Trojan Classic

Hillsboro freshman Elias Werth drives past his Bennington defender during the third-place game Saturday at the Trojan Classic. Werth hit two three-pointers to join Austin Cross as the team?s top scorers with six points a piece. Hillsboro lost the game, 45-27. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

Hillsboro?s participation in the Trojan Classic ended with an uninspired effort that resulted in a 45-27 loss to Benning?ton in the third-place game Saturday at Brown Gymna?sium.

With the loss, Hillsboro finished with a 1-2 mark in the tournament and a season record of 8-5. Bennington, with a 2-1 showing during the week, improved to 11-2 for the season.

Hillsboro actually led after one quarter, 7-5, despite tepid shooting and five turn?overs. But the Trojans went downhill from there, managing a mere five points on two made shots in the second quarter, and committed four more turnovers.

Austin Cross?s basket in the paint with 5:23 left in the second quarter was Hills?boro?s last field goal until Cross scored again at the 5:25 mark of the third quarter to keep Hillsboro within sight of Bennington at 24-14.

Hillsboro?s field goal drought then resumed until Elias Werth hit a three-pointer 30 seconds into the fourth quarter to make the score 35-17. Josh Funk scored next with 3:25 left after a missed free throw, and the Trojans? final basket came when Phillip Ediger scored on a layup with 47 seconds to go.

For the game, Hillsboro shot just under 25 percent (10-41) from the field, including 3-of-19 shooting from behind the arc. Bennington shot 33 percent (15-46) from the floor. Defensively, the Bulldogs recorded 12 steals compared to Hillsboro?s four.

Coach Darrel Knoll was mystified by his team?s performance.

?We didn?t bring any energy tonight,? he said. ?We were just flat-out down on our feet defensively, and offensively, we didn?t move the ball. It wasn?t like us.

?I don?t know how we could be that flat for a third-place game. Last night (against Holcomb), we played really hard, but had some execution issues. Today, I didn?t think we played hard at all.?

Holcomb 68, Hillsboro 41

Semifinals, Friday

Hillsboro gave the top-ranked team in Class 4A-Division II all it could handle in the first half, but another third-quarter subpar shooting performance by the Trojans enabled Holcomb to run away with a comfortable victory at Brown Gymna?sium.

Holcomb jumped to an 11-4 lead during the first 4 minutes of the game. But a 9-0 Longhorn run pushed the Trojans to the edge of a blowout with 3 minutes to go.

Hillsboro bounced back with a 7-2 surge, but a final basket with 44.5 seconds left gave Holcomb a 23-12 lead at the end of the quarter.

Hillsboro then stepped up with its best quarter of the evening. After Holcomb?s Trey Sleep started the quarter by banking in a three-pointer, Micah Allen stepped up, scoring seven points for the Trojans.

Teammate Austin Cross followed with a basket at the 2:47 mark to pull the Trojans within 28-23. The margin was 37-28 at intermission.

That?s when the lights went out for the Trojans. Holcomb scored 12 unanswered points to start the third quarter before Braden Vogt hit a three-pointer at the 3:13 mark to make the score 49-31. By the end of the quarter, Holcomb was on top, 56-35.

?We?ve got to fix the third quarter,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?I know the guys were determined tonight, and we played really hard. It had nothing to do with effort or want-to or desire. But we turned the ball over and we missed shots in the third quarter, which led to an easy run-out for them.?

The Longhorns started the fourth quarter with another burst, scoring eight straight points to push the game beyond reach at 64-35 with 6:11 to play.

The running clock kicked in when the spread broke the 30-point barrier at 68-37 with 4:44 to play.

?I told the guys after the game to keep their heads up, let?s fix what we?re not doing right, and we?re going to be solid down the stretch,? Knoll said. ?We?ve just got to learn from what we?re doing. We?re a better team than what happened here in the second half.?

Hillsboro?s Grant Knoll shoots for three points during the Trojans? first-round victory over Riley County. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

Hillsboro 51, Riley Co. 40

First round, Tuesday

Hillsboro began tournament play with a schizophrenic performance against Riley County. The Trojans played perhaps their best half of the season while building a 30-9 lead by halftime, then suffered through one of their worst quarters of the season after halftime.

A modest fourth-quarter revival enabled them to hold on for an 11-point victory.

Hillsboro overwhelmed the Falcons through the first two quarters, using aggressive defense and a 17-point performance by Micah Allen to reach the 21-point lead. Five Trojans contributed points in the first half, hitting 11 of 17 shots.

Nobody contributed points in the third quarter. The Trojans were shut out to the tune of 13-0. Hillsboro missed seven shots from the floor and turned the ball over three times, enabling the Falcons to close the gap to 30-22 as the quarter ended.

?At halftime, all I talked about was to come out with some intensity, and make sure we put it away in the third quarter and not allow them to hang around,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?Then we did the exact opposite. We let them come out and take it right at us.?

After Riley missed three shots around the basket to start the fourth quarter, Hillsboro suddenly rediscovered its first-half spark.

Preston Loewen and Elias Werth hit back-to-back threes, then Loewen followed with a layup for an 8-point burst over a span of 55 seconds. Hillsboro led, 38-25, at the 6:08 mark.

But the Trojans failed to score again until Allen hit a layup at 2:34. That sparked an 11-7 surge down the home stretch with Hillsboro hitting nine of 10 free throws, including seven of eight by Allen, in the final 1:26 to keep the Falcons grounded.

?I wish we would have executed a little better in the fourth quarter, but at least we were able to turn it around and do enough to win,? Knoll said. ?We?ve shown we have ability to play. We just have to play consistently for a full game.?

Allen finished with 23 points and Loewen 10. Even with the occasional shooting droughts, Hillsboro finished with 52 percent shooting (16-31) from the field and made 12 of 15 free throws.

The Trojans were out-rebounded, 36-20.

Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to travel to Marion Tuesday to take on the Warriors for the only game this week. Same night results will be available at hillsborofreepress.com or by calling the Free Line at 947-3363.

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