Both teams struggled to score in the opening period of the championship game. In fact, Lyons suffered through a 1-for-17 start, enabling Hillsboro, with 3-for-9 shooting, to establish a 6-5 lead at the first break. Four of Hillsboro?s points came from Andy Klassen.
In the second period, one of the teams found its shooting touch. Lyons made five of its first six shots to stake a 16-10 lead by the 4:48 mark. By halftime, the margin was 20-16.
Hillsboro hits its most productive stretch midway through the third period. With the Trojans trailing 22-17, Clay Shewey hit a 15-footer at the 5:43 mark that ignited an 8-2 Trojan run that he also capped with a steal and layup with 3:39 left in the period. Daniel Jost and Klassen chipped in baskets in between.
But Hillsboro?s 25-24 lead proved to be its last. Lyons regained the advantage when Brennan Clark scored at the 3:29 mark. Hillsboro managed only one free throw and one field goal the rest of the period while committing four turnovers, enabling Lions to claim a 32-28 advantage heading into the final frame.
Payton Griffith scored for Lyons and David Loewen responded with a basket for Hillsboro in the first 41 seconds of the fourth quarter.
The Trojans didn?t score again until Jost hit a 5-foot pull-up with 4:54 left in the game. By then, Lyons had established a 40-30 lead.
After a Lyons turnover, Loewen scored to narrow the margin to 40-34. But a 3-pointer by Clark, followed 16 seconds later by a steal and layup by Jake Craig, gave the Lions a 45-34 lead with 3:12 left and seemed to break the Trojans? spirit.
Forced to foul, Hillsboro put the Lions on the free-throw line for 14 free throws down the stretch, and they responded with 12 points. Meanwhile, the Trojans managed only two baskets in eight attempts and made two of three free throws over the same span.
For the night, Hillsboro shot 36 percent (16-44) from the floor, but made only one of 14 3-point attempts. Lyons, after its frigid first quarter, shot nearly 60 percent (16-27) the rest of the evening.
Hillsboro?s desperation fouls late in the game gave the Lions a 20-for-25 edge at the free-throw line compared to the Trojans? 8-for-11.
Clark led a trio of Lions in double figures with 21 points. Craig added 13 and Payton Griffith 10.
Jost was the only Trojan to break double digits, finishing with 11.
?We just struggled shooting the ball tonight?we just didn?t get it down,? said Trojan coach Darrel Knoll. ?It was was one of those games where everybody struggled to score early and we never came out of it. Down the stretch, they made free throws and made plays and we didn?t.?
Lyons? three sub-state wins moves the Lions into the state tournament with an 11-12 record. Hillsboro finishes its season at 13-10.
?The guys did play really hard this year and we did come a long way,? Knoll said. ?I?m extremely disappointed about this loss. But for the season, I really appreciated the way we grew during the year.?
Three seniors, Gavin Serene, Spencer Brown and Mitchell Koop, wrapped up their Trojans careers.
?I enjoyed working with them, and we had a great year,? Knoll said. ?Unfortunately, it didn?t turn out the way we wanted it to tonight.?
Hillsboro 58, Hutch Trinity 57
A huge basket by the smallest player on the court powered the Hillsboro Trojans into the sub-state finals Thursday night as the home team defeated No. 1-seeded Hutchinson Trinity in overtime.
Gavin Serene, Hillsboro?s Mighty Mite at 5-feet-7, drained a 3-point basket from the left wing with 17 seconds left in the extra period. When Daniel Jost stole the ball with less than seven seconds left, Serene?s basket became the game-winner, capping a dramatic come-from-behind victory for the fifth-seeded Trojans.
Hillsboro got off to a blazing start, thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by Clay Shewey in the first 1:20 of the game. But Trinity showed why it came in as the top seed, and matched the Trojans basket for basket.
When Hillsboro hit an 0-for-6 drought through the last 3:30 of the quarter, the Celtics accelerated into a 13-0 run that gave them to a 23-12 lead at the first break.
But Hillsboro scored the first seven points of the second quarter to jump right back into contention. By halftime the Celtic lead stood at six, 30-24.
Aided by three Celtic turnovers, the Trojans started the third quarter with four unanswered baskets?two by Loewen and one each by Daniel Jost and Shewey?to take the lead at 32-30 with 5:47 left in the period.
The two teams scrapped back and forth the entire period, but Trinity held the lead after three quarters, 44-43.
The fourth quarter was more of the same, as both teams combined some untimely turnovers with some timely baskets.
When Serene drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:18 left in regulation, the game was tied at 53.
A combination of good defense by Hillsboro and patient execution by Trinity drained the clock to under 30 seconds when Hutch?s Conor Reilly missed two cracks at the basket in the paint. Shewey grabbed the rebound after the second miss and Hillsboro played for the final shot.
But, with less then 10 seconds left, Hillsboro turned the ball over, giving Trinity one last crack at the basket. To the relief of Trojan fans, Ryan Mesh?s baseline jumper bounced off the side of the rim, sending the game into OT.
The extra period started raggedly as the two teams combined for five turnovers in the first 2 minutes. Andrew LaBenz scored on a putback with 1:57 to give Trinity the first points.
After Serene missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:30 left, Reilly scored off a steal and was fouled with 1:23 to go. He missed the free throw.
Hillsboro rebounded, and seconds later Serene missed a jumper. But Shewey was there to rebound and scored the putback with 1:09 to go. He was fouled on the basket, but missed the bonus charity.
Trinity had another chance to extend its 57-55 lead when Michael Mesh was fouled with 47.7 seconds left. But the freshman missed both ends of the double-bonus, giving Hillsboro new life.
The two teams traded turnovers once more both an open Serene drained what proved to be the winning shot. When Jost followed with his win-assuring steal, the Trojans secured their berth in the finals.
?It was big for Gavin to hit that shot,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?He was big-time due on that. I thought about calling time out, but he was open up the floor and our best chance was to get it up and knock it down. Fortunately, it worked out the way it did.?
Jost, with an outstanding game, finished as Hillsboro top scorer with 17 points. He was followed closely by Shewey with 15 and Serene and Loewen with 12 each.
Reilly scored 19 and Ryan Mesh 17 to pace Trinity.
?Trinity came to play tonight, that?s the bottom line.? Knoll said.
?I?ve seen them play on film a couple of times, and they played up tonight. To their credit, they gave us everything that we could handle.
?I was really proud of the guys,? he added. ?We just kept playing. When they made that run on us early in the game and seemed to have all the momentum, I told the guys just keep playing and things will happen.?