The Hillsboro boys used a 19-11 fourth quarter to catapult themselves to a 57-43 home-court win Friday against Lyons.
Hillsboro, coming off a heart-breaking loss to Sterling earlier in the week, improved to 3-1 in league play and 9-6 for the season. Lyons dropped to 1-3 and 5-9.
After splitting two games earlier this season, this rubber match was for league standings. Lyons took an early 7-3 lead, but by the end of the first quarter the Trojans led 14-11 and never trailed again.
A three-pointer by Brett Weinbrenner in the final two seconds of the first half bumped the lead to 28-22 by intermission.
The game slipped into a give-and-take pattern through the third period. A deep three-pointer from Tyler Proffitt with 54 seconds left restored Hillsboro’s lead to six points, 38-32, when the quarter ended.
“We got into a streak during this game where all of a sudden we’re just dribbling and shooting again,” Knoll said. “But when we got back to playing with purpose, I thought we were pretty sharp.”
The fourth quarter was Hillsboro’s best, particularly the first four minutes. Moving the ball exceptionally well, Hillsboro launched a 9-0 run capped by a three-pointer from Weinbrenner at the 5:19 mark.
Meanwhile, the defense forced five Lion turnovers and three missed shots to push Hillsboro’s lead to a 47-32 bulge with 4:00 to play.
Lyons nailed back-to-back threes to slice the lead to nine points. But 8-for-8 free-throw shooting over the next minute—two from Harry Faber and six straight from Weinbrenner—derailed any further comeback by the visiting team.
“I thought the first part of that quarter we were smart with our shot selection,” Knoll said. “We executed so much better tonight. It looked like we ran offense with more purpose than we did Tuesday night. That was the real difference in the game.”
Weinbrenner finished as the game’s high scorer with 20 points on 5-for-11 shooting. Shaq Thiessen broke double figures with 12 despite a below-normal 6-for-15 shooting night.
“I thought Brett did a good job of taking control of the offense,” Knoll said. “Shaq had some really nice plays tonight, he was under control and took good shots. He can be really good when he does that.”
Knoll also highlighted a couple of key three-point baskets from Evan Ollenburger and a good defensive effort off the bench by Jesse Brown.
“I thought everybody who came in tonight just played better than they have been playing,” he said.
As a team, the Trojans made 49 percent of their shots (21-43) while limiting Lyons to 33 percent (14-42). Grady Kirkhardt led Lyons (1-3, 5-9) with 15 points.
Sterling—The Trojans lost a heart-breaker in overtime Tuesday against a Sterling team they had defeated by 17 points only three weeks earlier.
The 71-68 setback was Hillsboro’s first loss in league play (2-1) while Sterling improved to 3-0 in the league and 6-8 overall.
When the Trojans jumped to a 10-2 lead out of the gate, they appeared to be on the way to a season sweep of the defending 2A champions. But Sterling regrouped, and the two teams settled into a back-and-forth ballgame for the rest of the half.
Hillsboro led 32-28 at intermission.
Sterling took its first lead at 44-42 when Riley Galyon scored in the paint with 3:18 left in the third quarter. From that point forward, it was a seesaw battle.
As the fourth period began, Josh Wiebe scored in the lane at the 3:34 mark to give Hillsboro some breathing room at 55-50. But that would be the Trojans’ final field goal during regulation in what turned out to be a free-throw battle down the stretch.
When Brett Weinbrenner hit a pair with 26.6 seconds left, Hillsboro led, 60-57. But Sterling’s 6-foot-4 senior, Austin Maxwell, scored in the paint and added a bonus free throw on a foul to tie the game with 14.9 second left.
After a Trojan timeout with eight seconds to go, Weinbrenner got an open look at the basket, but his shot bounced away, sending the game into overtime.
Harry Faber started the extra-period scoring with a pair of free throws, but with Hillsboro missing five straight shots from the floor, Sterling was able to build a 66-62 lead with 1:10 left.
Faber came up big again by draining a three-pointer from the top of the key with 1:03 to go, cutting the lead to one. Sterling responded with a basket and then one of two free throws to push the margin back to four at 69-65 with 23 seconds left.
Thiessen then stepped up with a huge three-pointer to pull the Trojans back to within 69-68 with 15 seconds left.
After a timeout, the Trojans sent Kirk Engelland to the line with 9.7 seconds to go. He made one of two shots, giving Hillsboro an opportunity to tie or win the game. Once again Weinbrenner got an open look, but again the shot refused to drop.
Maxwell was fouled on the rebound and made one of two free throws with 0.9 seconds left for the final 71-68 margin.
Hillsboro got 29 points from Thiessen and 18 from Weinbrenner, but struggled to get more than seven points from anyone else. The dynamic duo combined to put up half of Hillsboro’s 68 shots from the floor and made 17 of the team’s 22 baskets.
Maxwell led Sterling with a game-high 35 points on 12-for-21 shooting, most of which occurred around the basket as he used his height and strength to good advantage.
Coming—Hillsboro was scheduled to take on Smoky Valley (1-3, 4-11) Tuesday in Lindsborg. Friday, the Trojans will get their first look at Hesston. The Swathers are atop the Central Kansas League at 4-0 and sport a 13-2 season record.
For same-night results on both games, call the Free Line at 620-947-3363 or go to hillsborofreepress.com.