The Hillsboro boys climbed out of a 15-point third-quarter deficit only to fall short in the end as state-ranked Sterling prevailed, 56-49, Friday at Sterling.
It appeared the unbeaten Black Bears would make easy work of the Trojans after taking a 24-11 lead at halftime. The Trojans played aggressively on defense, but managed only 19 percent shooting (5-26) through the first two quarters.
?It?s been kind of a trend for us to come out a little flat in the first half, not move the ball well on offense and shoot poorly,? coach Darrel Knoll said.
?That put us in a big hole and it was mostly because we didn?t execute offensively. It was too much one-on-one stuff, and we were too quick to shoot.?
But with the score 28-13 a minute and a half into the third quarter, Hillsboro launched a comeback. Christian Ratzlaff ignited an 11-0 run with a three-point basket from the wing at the 6:11 mark. Josh Wiebe followed with a basket in the paint and Ratzlaff and Brett Weinbrenner each drained a three-pointer to make the score 28-24 with 4:11 left in the quarter.
The Trojans started the fourth quarter still trailing, 35-31, but got another three from Ratzlaff and a pair of free throws from Shaq Thiessen to give HHS its first lead of the night at 36-35 with 6:48 left in the game.
It also proved to be the Trojans? last lead of the night. Sterling responded with an 8-0 run capped by a three-pointer from Jake Jaderston at the 5:20 mark. Trailing 50-40 with less than three minutes to go, Hillsboro made one last run on a three-point play by Weinbrenner, followed by a pair of free throws from Jesse Allen and a basket in the paint by Thiessen to close the gap to 50-47 with 1:40 left. But Hillsboro missed its next five shots while Sterling responded with 6-for-8 free-throw shooting to push the margin back to 56-47 with less than 15 seconds to play.
?Especially down the stretch, we were too quick to run down, make one pass and shoot,? Knoll said. ?We weren?t playing like a seasoned team. It was like we felt we had to get ourselves back into (the game) on one play.
?We had some good looks, but just didn?t make them. At least we battled hard and came back.?
With the win, Sterling, ranked third in Class 2A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, improved its record to 5-0 while the Trojans, who were ranked 8th in Class 3A by the KBCA, slipped to 3-2.
Smoky Valley?Hillsboro recovered from a first-quarter punch in the chops to knock out Smoky Valley in overtime, 55-51, for the first boys? victory in Linds?borg since December 2007.
The Trojans appeared to be staggered as the Vikings built a 16-7 lead with 2:00 minutes left in the first period. Christian Ratz?laff hit a three-point basket and Josh Wiebe a two-pointer to close the gap to 18-12 by quarter?s end.
?They came out fired up,? coach Darrel Knoll said of the Vikings. ?They?re a fast team and they just were cutting hard and beating us to spots.
?We seemed to be one step behind that whole first quarter. To our credit we just kept playing and were able to stay within striking distance.?
The Trojans continued their recovery in the second period, tying the game at 23 when Wiebe scored at the 5:29 mark. After the Vikings edged ahead again, a three by Shaq Thiessen pulled HHS back to within 29-28 by halftime.
?Part of the problem in the first part of the first quarter is that it was two passes, drive and shoot the three,? Knoll said. ?We didn?t allow ourselves to get into any offensive rhythm. In the second quarter we started making five, six, seven passes and we got good shots. Even if we missed them we got the rebound.?
A basket by Evan Ollen?burger gave Hillsboro its first lead 27 seconds into the third period. With Smoky ahead, 35-32, with 5:27 left in the quarter, the Trojans scored the next seven points?a two by Wiebe, a three by Ratzlaff and a two by Jesse Allen?to stake a 39-35 lead at the 3:07 mark. The game was tied at 41 after three quarters.
The Vikings took their last lead when a Nick Deterding basket and a free throw by Andy Osner put them on top, 48-45.
But Brett Weinbrenner, who had been struggling with his shot much of the game, drained a huge three with 1:15 left in regulation to tie the game at 48-48. Smoky worked for the last shot, but missed it and a put-back attempt with only seconds remaining. Ratzlaff got off a long three at the buzzer, but the ball bounced off the rim, sending the contest into overtime.
Weinbrenner continued his crunch-time clutch shooting with a three-pointer 15 seconds into the overtime, then hit a two-point basket with 1:03 left to give HHS a 53-48 lead.
Deterding countered immediately with a three to pull his team to within two points with 54 second left. But neither team was able to score again until Ollenburger sank two unneeded free throws with no time showing on the clock for the final 55-51 margin.
Weinbren?ner finished as high-point man with 15 points. Wiebe added 10.
Knoll said Weinbrenner?s late heroics may mark a turning point for the sophomore point guard.
?He really hasn?t been shooting like he can yet,? he said. ?But Brett?s a player and his shot is going to come around.?
Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to complete its pre-holiday stretch Tuesday with a game against Marion (2-2) in the Trojans? first home game of the season. For a same-night report on that game, go to hillsborofreepress.com and then ?Breaking News.?
Hillsboro will return to action Jan. 3 with a home game against Halstead.