Hillsboro sweeps Nickerson, Pratt

Austin Cross is squeezed by Pratt defenders Bryce Stegman (41) and Drew Roadhouse as he attempts to score in the paint. No foul was called on the play; Cross led the Trojans with 11 points in a 38-35 victory.Hillsboro?s relatively young boys? team came of age Friday, gutting through a low-scoring and sometimes brutally physical matchup for a 38-35 road win at Pratt.

The Greenbacks came into the game with a 5-0 record in the Central Kansas League and 10-4 overall. The Trojans headed home in a three-way tie for second in the CKL with Larned and Pratt at 5-1 and a 12-3 season record.

Hillsboro exerted control on the way to a 13-4 lead when Darian Ratzlaff ended the first quarter with a traditional three-point play.

Pratt upped its physical game and began to wear down Hills?boro on both ends of the court. At intermission the Trojans were hanging on to a 19-17 lead with momentum in Pratt?s favor.

The Trojans got a three-point basket by Braden Vogt and a two-pointer from Preston Loewen to push the margin to 24-17 at the 5:42 mark of the third quarter. But Hillsboro scored a mere two free throws the rest of the quarter; when it ended, Pratt was within 26-23.

Pratt took its only lead of the night, 27-26, at the 6:30 mark of the fourth quarter. By mid-quarter, Pratt bumped the lead to 30-27.

The Trojans began to cash in on the physical nature of the game by converting eight of 10 free throws in the final 4:02, including four in a row by Loewen?two with 23.6 seconds to play, and two more with 9.2 seconds left?for a 38-32 lead.

Pratt ended the scoring with a three-point basket in the final seconds.

Austin Cross managed 11 points to lead Hillsboro; Elias Werth and Ratzlaff each added nine points.

As a team, the Trojans shot 31 percent (10-32) from the floor, with one three-pointer in only eight attempts. The difference came at the free-throw line, where Hillsboro made 17 of 21 attempts.

?It was the most physical game we?ve played all year, the way it was called,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?Our guards haven?t been banged like that all year.

?We?ve come so far from the beginning of the year,? he added. ?We would have been beaten by 20 or 30 points, but we?re stronger with everything (now) and we don?t get down when things aren?t going our way. I was really proud of them.?

Nickerson?Hillsboro pulled away in the final minutes to post a 67-56 home win against the Panthers.

Hillsboro had its hands full for three and a half quarters against a hot-shooting Nickerson team. The Pan?thers made eight of the nine shots in the first quarter while the Trojans made only five of 14 attempts, giving the visitors a 19-14 lead at the first break.

The Trojans stepped up their game in the second quarter as Preston Loewen and Darian Ratzlaff combined for all 15 of Hills?boro?s points before Elias Werth scored with 26 seconds left in the half.

It was enough to vault the Trojans into a 32-31 lead at intermission despite 75 percent shooting (12-16) by the Panthers for the half.

The Trojans got off to a quick start in the third quarter. Carson Herbel scored on a layup and Austin Cross added two free throws and a basket in the paint in the first 1:48 for a 38-31 lead. But Nickerson didn?t roll over, and pulled to within 44-39 as the quarter ended.

Nickerson outscored the Trojans 9-2 through the first 3:06 of the fourth quarter to take a 48-46 lead. With the Panthers leading 50-48, the tide turned suddenly. Loe?wen ignited a late rally with a three-pointer at the 4:13 mark, and the Trojans finished the game with a 19-6 run to victory.

Loewen finished with a season-high 19 points on 3-for-5 shooting from two-point range, 3-for-4 from behind the arc and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. Ratzlaff added 16 points and Cross 12.

As a team, the Trojans shot 46 percent (24-52) for the game, but Nickerson was just as accurate (22-48).

Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to host Hoising?ton (6-9, 1-5) Tuesday, then will travel to Kingman (1-14, 1-5) Friday. Haven (10-5, 3-3) comes to tow Feb. 16.

Written By
More from Don Ratzlaff
DEATH: Pauline Balzer, 95
PAULINE BALZER, 95, died May 22 at Asbury Park in Newton. The...
Read More