The Hillsboro boys earned a 61-37 victory over Marion Tuesday on the Warriors’ home court.
But the outcome was far from certain after one quarter of play, as Marion—who played without starters Mason Pedersen and Peyton Heidebrecht because of injury and illness, respectively—made four of its first five attempts from the floor, while Hillsboro made one of eight.
That allowed the Warriors to stake an 8-2 lead when Nathan Baldwin scored at the 3:54 mark.
“I thought they (Marion) came out really hard,” Hillsboro coach Darrel Knoll said. “We’ve got to do a better job at the beginning of games. We missed some shots and kind of dug ourselves a hole. But the guys kept playing. We started moving the ball and just relaxed a little bit. We missed a couple inside that we’d normally make.”
Fueled by increased defensive pressure, Hillsboro outscored Marion, 11-4, after that—the run included three three-pointers, two from Joe Knoll—giving the Trojans the lead by the first break, 13-12.
“They (Hillsboro) play really good defense—on the ball defense and off the ball,” Marion coach Randy Skiles said. “We just didn’t have the experience to handle their pressure.”
With Hillsboro’s press continuing to throw Marion off balance, the Trojans enjoyed a 13-0 run to start the second quarter. Preston Loewen scored five points during that stretch, including a three-pointer at the 4:42 mark that put Hillsboro in front, 26-12.
Marion went 0-for-6 from the field in the period, and Noah Dalrymple scored the Warriors’ first points at the charity stripe with 3:00 left in the half. Hillsboro led, 30-16, at halftime, having made eight of 16 attempts in the second quarter.
“We missed a lot of easy shots,” Skiles said. “We allowed Hillsboro to speed us up, and we just need to slow down and run some offense. They did a good job controlling the tempo. We just can’t play like that.”
The Trojans built their lead with a 17-8 third-quarter effort. Elias Werth scored eight of his game-high 14 points in the period, thanks in part to a pair of three-pointers. Dalrymple scored four points for Marion. By the end of the quarter, Hillsboro’s lead had grown to 47-24.
The teams played fairly evenly through the fourth quarter, which ended with Hillsboro in front, 61-37.
“I thought we did a great job of forcing them into some pretty tough decisions, defensively,” Knoll said. “We ran hard, got back and took care of the boards for most of the game. We just have to cleanup our fouling a little bit.”
Wes Shaw joined Werth in double digit scoring for Hillsboro with 11 points.
Zachary Stuchlik led Marion with 10 points.
The victory improves Hillsboro’s record to 5-1.
“I’m happy with that, but I know we have a lot of improving to do,” Knoll said. “I do think this is a team that plays hard, they want to be good, and they’re playing well together. So we’re just going to keep working at fine-tuning the little things.”
Marion’s record is 2-3.
“(The break) couldn’t have come at a better time because we need to heal up and get some of the sickness gone,” Skiles said. “But that’s a tough game to end on because now we have to wait until January to play again.”
Coming—Hillsboro will host Nickerson Tuesday, Jan. 3. Marion will host Ell-Saline Friday, Jan. 6.
Don Ratzlaff contributed to this story.