Hillsboro looked like a different team than the one that swept three games last week at Moundridge, and the result was the end of their unbeaten season with a 55-44 loss at Southeast of Saline on Friday.
“We got out of our normal selves and we tried to make too much happen individually on offense,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “All that did was create shots where we weren’t shooting in rhythm. It was more due to us than it was to (Southeast). We just didn’t execute.”
Southeast of Saline took on that role instead, forging an 11-2 lead in the first 4 minutes of the game. With six points from Caleb Potucek, Hillsboro rallied to pull ahead for the first time, 15-14, as the buzzer sounded.
Elias Werth started the scoring for Hillsboro with a three-point play 52 seconds into the second quarter. But the team didn’t score again until Werth sank two free throws at the 2:07 mark—a 5-minute drought.
Hillsboro made only one field goal in nine attempts during the quarter, but SES missed 10 of its 13 shots.
Leading 23-20 to start the third quarter, Southeast came out impressively, outscoring Hillsboro, 9-2, in the first 3 minutes for a 32-22 lead.
Hillsboro’s Wes Shaw then scored baskets on three consecutive possessions to close the gap to 38-34 at the 3:00 mark. SES led 36-32 as the quarter ended.
Hillsboro was in position to make a fourth-quarter charge, but the reverse happened. Werth scored two 3-point plays to give Hillsboro its final lead, 38-37, with 6:38 to play.
But Southeast’s Nick Montgomery scorched the nets with 11 points in the quarter, most on easy baskets in the lane.
Hillsboro, meanwhile, managed only one point in the final 2:07 on a free throw by Potucek—and that came with 3.6 seconds showing on the clock.
“We need to realize that when somebody has a little bit of a run, we’ve got to take control of the game, not try to get it back in one or two plays,” Knoll said.
Werth was Hillsboro’s most productive scorer with 19 points. Potucek finished with nine, Shaw eight, Darian Ratzlaff was limited to a season-low six.
As a team, Hillsboro shot 16-for-52 (31 percent) from the floor and only 2-21 from behind the arc. Southeast wasn’t that much sharper, shooting 39 percent (18-46) from the floor and only 1-13 from three-point territory.
“I thought we could finish the game strong,” Knoll said. “We had a couple of poor defensive things happen. They made some shots and we didn’t.”
Coming—After five consecutive road games to start the season, Hillsboro was to make its home-court debut Tuesday against Marion.
For a same-night report, go to hillsborofreepress.com.
The competitive season will resume Jan. 2 with a Cental Kansas League game at Nickerson.