Hillsboro boys split games against CKL contenders

Coming off a two-day snow holiday, the Hillsboro boys fell one half of aggressive basketball short of sweeping two league contenders in back-to-back games last week.

The Trojans were brilliant Thursday in a 60-39 win over Sterling, but dropped a 48-33 decision Friday at Smoky Valley after fighting their way to a 20-17 halftime lead.

The Vikings scored the first eight points on their homecoming night before Jesse Allen finally broke the ice for Hills?boro with a layup at the 4:14 mark of the opening quarter.

The Vikings came into the evening with a 5-0 league record (11-3 overall), but Hillsboro (4-1, 9-7) pulled to within 12-8 by the end of the period.

The Trojans took their first lead when Brett Weinbren?ner hit a three-pointer with 4:01 left in the second quarter. Ratzlaff followed with a floater in the lane to complete an 8-0 run that gave HHS an 18-15 lead on the way to the 20-17 halftime score.

With Hillsboro leading 25-23 three minutes into the third quarter, the Trojans went flat. They squandered their next 17 possessions with 10 turnovers and 2-for-9 shooting.

Meanwhile, Smoky Valley completed a 21-4 run to secure an all but insurmountable 44-29 lead with 3:35 left in the contest.

Weinbrenner and Ben Beber?meyer led Hillsboro with eight points each. Wayd Thomas took game honors with 15 points for Smoky. For the game, Hillsboro shot 39 percent (14-36) from the floor while the Vikings finished at 50 percent (20-40).

?The first half I thought we were really physical inside,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?The second half, for whatever reason, we just turned the ball over and you can?t score turning the ball over. We didn?t attack the basket and we didn?t move the ball like we did the first half, and that made the difference in the game.?

Sterling?Despite the progress the Trojans have shown this season, Coach Darrel Knoll has been telling his players they still have a higher level of play within them.

The Trojans came close to that level Thursday, outscoring a tall and physical Sterling team 53-27 over the last three quarters en route to a startling 60-39 win at Brown Gymna?sium in a game postponed two days by snow.

The win avenged a seven-point loss at Sterling in Decem?ber and dropped the Black Bears to 11-3 for the season.

?The guys fought really hard tonight?I was really proud of them,? Knoll said. ?There were great performances from a lot of people.?

The Trojans appeared to be headed for a challenging night after Sterling took a 12-7 lead when Austin Max?well?s touch-and-shoot three-pointer went in at the first-quarter buzzer.

Hillsboro climbed back into a tie at 14-14 when Christian Ratzlaff drained a three at the 5:29 mark of the second period. HHS took the lead for good at 18-17 with 3:16 to go when Jarod Hamm scored in the paint off a nice assist by Caleb Hilliard.

Back-to-back three pointers by Brett Weinbrenner in a span of 42 seconds put HHS into the driver?s seat. When Ratzlaff completed a traditional three-point play, the Trojans carried a 27-19 lead into intermission.

After the two teams traded baskets to start the third quarter, Weinbrenner and Ratzlaff struck again, scoring Hillsboro?s next 11 points, including three three-pointers, over a 4:30 stretch to give HHS a 40-27 lead.

Ben Bebermeyer added a nice layup with four seconds left in the quarter to bump the score to 42-29 at the final break.

In the fourth quarter, Sterling turned up its pressure defense, resulting in a surge that narrowed the gap to 46-37 with 4:12 left. But HHS, coming out of a timeout, got a surprise boost from Brandon Rooker. The junior post, making his first appearance of the evening, scored five points within a minute of play that helped expand the lead to 54-37.

Down the home stretch, HHS took care of business at the free-throw line, hitting 10 of 13 to seal the 21-point win.

Wein?brenner finished with 16 points and Ratzlaff 15 to pace HHS. Maxwell scored 15 to lead Sterling.

?It helps making shots, but part of making shots tonight was that we moved the ball much better offensively,? Knoll said. ?We were more patient and got the ball side to side and inside out. We weren?t afraid to attack inside, which I thought made a really big difference.?

?Defensively, we did a nice job of rotating hard, and making it difficult for them to get good shots. The guys just played really hard tonight.?

Coming?With a league mark of 4-2, the Trojans will need to win their remaining three games and get help from other teams to earn a share of the CKL title.

This week, the Trojans will have home-court advantage when they play Halstead (4-2, 9-8) and Kingman (0-5, 2-15) at Brown Gymnasium.

They will complete the regular season next Tuesday at Haven (2-2, 12-3).

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