The Hillsboro boys made a late surge but didn?t have enough offensive fuel to maintain it as they dropped a 47-42 game to Sterling in a game that was both their home opener and pre-holiday finale Friday.
The Trojans hung around on the edge of contention prior to the final quarter. By the end of one period, Sterling had built a 10-5 lead and seemed poised to take control. But to their credit, the Trojans stayed within that 5- to 10-point range the rest of the game, trailing 23-14 at halftime and 33-25 after three quarters.
In the final quarter, though, Hillsboro made its run. A basket by Ethan Frantz at the 5:46 mark pulled HHS to within 35-29. Following a Sterling turnover, Caleb Hilliard scored in the paint, and Ben Bebermeyer drove the lane for a basket to offset a Sterling free-throw and make the score 35-34 with 5:02 to go.
After Sterling countered with a basket, Mason McCarty scored in the paint off a nice assist by Bebermeyer. Moments later, Bebermeyer drained a 3-pointer from the top at the key with 3:38 left to give Hillsboro its first lead of the night at 39-37.
But as quickly as the fireworks started, they fizzled. The Trojans missed their next six shots as Sterling re-established its lead at 45-39.
A 3-pointer by Jesse Allen with 21 seconds left gave Trojan fans some hope, but two more free-throws sealed the win for the Black Bears, who improved to 5-1 as Hillsboro slipped to 1-5.
Poor shooting continued to be the Trojans? biggest Achilles heal. On this night they shot 17-for-52 (33 percent) from the field, including a 3-for-23 performance from behind the arc.
Allen finished with 15 points to lead Hillsboro while Bebermeyer added 14.
Meanwhile, Sterling?s Austin Maxwell, a 6-foot-3 freshman, came off the bench to lead the Black Bears with 16 points, including six critical points down the stretch.
?I thought we played harder tonight,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?I don?t think there was ever a lack of effort. We?re struggling offensively to make shots that are open, No. 1, and No. 2, to run enough offense to get some good looks. Until we do that we?re going to keep struggling.
?We haven?t shot the ball well this year, but a lot of it is we haven?t taken great shots,? he added. ?We?re just forcing shots and rushing things. We?ve got to get better there.?
Hillsboro will return to action Jan. 5 when the Trojans host Hoisington.
Nickerson?Poor shooting kept Hillsboro from challenging a Nickerson team that was taller, faster and more athletic, as the Trojans dropped a 57-38 decision to the undefeated home team.
The Panthers were their own worst enemy in the early going, pushing the tempo too hard, resulting in four turnovers in their first five possessions.
With one basket by Nathan Vogel and two by Ben Beber?meyer, HHS led 6-4 with 4:37 left in the first quarter. But the Trojans went dry from the floor as Nickerson finished the quarter with a 9-0 run and a 13-6 lead.
In the second quarter, Nickerson seemed to find its stride, using a 13-2 run over the last 5:36 of the second quarter to go up 32-14 by intermission.
To their credit, the Trojans never quit, but just couldn?t make shots with any consistency. Three 3-pointers by Vogel?one in the first minute of the third quarter and two in the final 1:30?kept the Trojans within 19 points at the final break.
Jesse Allen scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter as the Trojans played Nickerson even for the 19-point loss.
Vogel led the Trojans (1-4) with 13 points, with Bebermeyer and Allen each totaling 11. As a team, the Trojans made only 13 of 44 shots (29 percent) from the floor and seven of 15 free throws.
Nickerson (5-0) got 22 points from its smooth 6-foot-6 post player, Troy Smith. The Panthers finished with 13 turnovers compared to 21 for HHS.