Hillsboro boys advance to semis

Hillsboro’s Darian Ratzlaff scores against Herington’s Tate Becker during the first quarter of the Class 2A sub-state opener Monday. Ratzlaff and his teammates won the game, 58-23, with a running clock. Don Ratzlaff / Free PressHillsboro wasted little time justifying the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A sub-state tournament with a 58-23 shellacking of No. 8 seed Herington Monday at Brown Gymnasium.

The Trojans, making seven of 10 shots in the first quarter, built a 14-0 lead before the visiting Railers scored their first points on a three-point basket by Keegan Osburn with 40 second left in the period.

The Trojans took a 16-3 lead into the second quarter and finished it with a 28-11 margin by halftime.

Hillsboro caught its breath at halftime and came out scoring, starting the third quarter with a 17-0 run before Gabe Backhus broke the streak with a basket in the paint.

By the end of the quarter the Trojans had more than qualified for a running clock finish with a 50-13 lead.

Coach Darrel Knoll rotated in his reserves for most of the final period.

Elias Werth and Wes Shaw tied for game-high scoring honors with 10 points.

With the win, the Tro­jans improve to 15-6 for the season and advance to the semifinals Thursday against either Moundridge or Chase County.

Smoky Valley—It was a reversal of fortune like no other. Hillsboro saw a 16-point lead evaporate in the fourth quarter and ended up losing the regular-season finale at Smoky Valley, 70-60, in overtime.

What made the collapse all the more painful was that it appeared at the start that the Trojans were heading for a blowout victory.

Smoky scored the game’s first basket, but the Trojans responded with a 10-0 run on a pair of three-pointers by Darian Ratzlaff and two-point baskets by Carson Herbel and Elias Werth over a 90-second span. Werth nailed a three a minute later to bump the score to 13-2.

By the end of the quarter, Hills­boro led 20-7 and by halftime the lead was 33-18 on 50 percent shooting (10-20) from the floor.

It became clear fairly early that the third quarter was not going to be like the first two. After Herbel scored a basket 13 seconds into the quarter, the Vikings went on an 8-0 run that finally ended when Herbel drilled a three at the 3:30 mark.

His basket sparked an 11-4 comeback that gave the Trojans their 46-30 lead as the quarter ended.

So what happened? Basically, Smoky’s Nick Reinert went crazy—to the delight of Viking fans. The senior guard exploded for 17 points in the quarter, making four baskets and eight of nine free throws.

Herbel gave Hills­boro it’s last lead, 56-55, when he completed a traditional three-point play with 55 seconds to play. Reinert then made one of two free throws to tie the game with 33 seconds left.

Hillsboro, who missed the front end of three one-on-one opportunities over the last 4:25, missed a final field goal with 23 seconds left. Reinert missed an off-balance shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

At that point, the Trojans were almost unrecognizable from the team that started the game. Hillsboro missed four shots from the floor and four free throws before Werth swished a deep three with 53 seconds left.

By then, the Vikings had rolled past the Trojans with a 9-0 run.

“We stop­ped passing the ball to each other and decided to go one-on-one,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “We got bumped into turnovers, and all of a sudden they’re scoring and got on a roll. We just quit playing.”

For the game, Reinert scored 36 points, including 18 of 20 free throws. As a team, the Vikings made 30 of 39 charities (77 percent) while Hillsboro made 11 of 21 (52 percent).

Herbel and Ratzlaff each scored 14 points to lead Hills­boro and Werth added 11.

The Trojans finished the regular season with a 14-6 record while Smoky Valley improved to 12-7.

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