Dragons stick Trojans with last-minute loss


Jesse Allen works along the sideline against a Halstead defender Friday night. Allen?s late free throw gave Hillsboro a 52-50 lead, but an improbable 3-pointer lifted the Dragons to victory.

The Hillsboro High boys battled back after a sluggish first half, but couldn?t close the deal in the final minute as Halstead escaped with a 53-52 decision Friday in Brown Gymnasium.

Hillsboro struggled to get in sync against a scrappy Dragon squad during the first half, trailing 12-11 after one quarter and 27-20 by halftime.

But the Trojans picked up their game a notch in the second half, canning eight of 12 shots from the field, to pull to within 42-40 after three quarters.

When David Loewen sank a pair of free throws with 5:13 left in the game, Hillsboro had its first lead of the night at 46-45 and still led 52-50 with 28.5 seconds to play after Jesse Allen made one of two free throws.

Halstead raced down the court and Tyler Ratzlaff threw up an early 3-pointer that clanked off the back of the rim.

Teammate Chris Santoya got the long rebound and put up a 3-pointer that missed, then Ratzlaff grabbed the ball and threw up one more shot from behind the arc with 10.4 seconds remaining?and that one found the mark.

After a timeout with 8.9 seconds left, Daniel Jost took the inbounds pass, drove the length of the floor and got off an off-balance shot from five feet out in the final second. But the ball bounced off the rim and time ran out in the scramble for the rebound.

Loewen finished with 19 points to lead Hillsboro, which made 52 percent (11-21) of its shots in the second half after 39 percent shooting (8-21) in the opening half.

?Early in the game we just came out and did not move on offense, for whatever reason,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?Defensively, we were not as aggressive as we should be.

?In the second half I thought we competed pretty hard,? he added. ?If we had just cleaned up some little things, we would have won that ball game.

?We missed some free throws down the stretch (going 3-for-6 in the final 2:49), and didn?t value some possessions late in third quarter and early fourth quarter. We had chances to maybe take or extend a lead, but we came up short every time.

?That?s where we need to learn to be more disciplined offensively and finish.?

The loss dropped Hillsboro to 2-2 in the league and 5-4 for the season. Halstead improved to 2-2 and 5-5.

Smoky Valley?Hillsboro overcame a six-point halftime deficit with some outstanding defensive play to beat Smoky Valley Tues?day night at Lindsborg, 57-42.

The outcome of the game was very much in doubt in the first half as the Vikings led a sluggish Trojan team 15-14 after one quarter and then 28-22 at intermission.

The Vikings? scoring machine, Chase Dippel, had 14 points by halftime but made only five of his 15 field-goal attempts, thanks to strong defense by Daniel Jost.

In the second half, the Trojans came out as a different team, with Jost moving his game up a notch from ?very good? to ?outstanding.? After a nine-point first half, he poured in 16 in the second half, including nine-of-10 shooting at the free-throw line for a game-high 25 points.

?Daniel played well the entire ball game,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?He?s really turning into a good leader for us. I felt like he kept us in it, and then down the stretch helped us pull away.?

The Trojans took their first lead of the night when Ben Bebermeyer made one of two free throws for a 34-33 advantage with less than a minute left in the third quarter.

When Andy Klassen nailed a 3-pointer in the opening seconds of the final period, Hillsboro went on a 15-1 run that carried them to a 49-34 lead with five minutes to go. Smoky Valley came back to within 10 points, but Jost drained four straight free throws to push HHS safely ahead, 53-39, with 2:37 to go.

For all of Jost?s offensive punch, it was his defense that delivered the knockout blow. Dippel finished with only 17 points on 6-for-27 shooting.

As a team, the Vikings made only four of 27 shots (15 percent) in the second half, and finished with 26 percent (14-50) for the game.

Hillsboro, meanwhile, converted 50 percent (16-32) for the game and outscored the Vikings at the free-throw line with 21 makes in 30 attempts to nine hits in only 14 opportunities for Smoky Valley.

Coming?Coming in as the sixth seed for this year?s Trojan Classic, Hillsboro was scheduled to open Tuesday against No. 3 seeded Wamego, one of three undefeated teams in the eight-team field at 5-0 as of Jan. 9.

Call the Free Line at 947-3363 or check www.hillsborofreepress.com for the results of that contest.

With a win, Hillsboro would play the winner of No. 2 Republic County (7-0) and No. 7 Marion at 8:15 p.m. Friday.

If the Trojans lost, they would play the loser of Republic County-Marion at 4:45 p.m. Thursday.

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