Hillsboro Darian Ratzlaff maneuvers between Inman’s Mason Thiessen (left) and Jack Doerksen for two points in the second half of the sub-state finals. Ratzlaff scored 15 points to lead the Trojans in defeat. Thiessen, Inman’s 6-foot-8 post scored 23 points in the Teuton’s 53-49 victory.
Hillsboro Darian Ratzlaff maneuvers between Inman’s Mason Thiessen (left) and Jack Doerksen for two points in the second half of the sub-state finals. Ratzlaff scored 15 points to lead the Trojans in defeat. Thiessen, Inman’s 6-foot-8 post scored 23 points in the Teuton’s 53-49 victory.
The Hillsboro boys battled wholeheartedly for a return trip to Manhattan, but in the end a scoring drought late in the championship game cost the Tro­jans their season’s dream.

Inman 53, Hillsboro 49

2A sub-state finals, March 3

Hillsboro and Inman squared off in a physical battle Saturday to earn the right to qualify for the Class 2A state tournament. While the Trojans set the pace in the first half, it was the Teutons who endured to the end in a 53-49 victory to qualify for a trip to Manhattan next week.

In some ways, the outcome brought the season full circle. The Trojans defeated the Teutons, 61-51, the first week of the season in the championship game of the Moundridge Pre-Season Tournament.

In the early going of Saturday’s game, it appeared the Trojans might pull of the sweep. Hillsboro’s Elias Werth scored the first six points of the game with three free throws and a 3-point basket in the first 2:30.

Wes Shaw scored Hills­boro’s next four baskets to give the Trojans a 15-13 edge as the first quarter ended.

In the second quarter, Hillsboro’s Darian Ratz­laff hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Trojans their largest lead of the night at 21-13 at the 6:43 mark. But Inman battled back with two baskets in the final 26 seconds to tie the game at 26-26 at intermission.

Hillsboro scored the first five points of the third quarter, but managed only three more points over the next five minutes. Meanwhile, Inman rallied with 13 points to take a 39-35 lead through three quarters.

Ratzlaff tied the game as the fourth quarter began with back-to-back baskets. The two teams essentially traded shots thereafter, whether it was 2-pointer or 3-pointer.

Trailing 48-46 with 2:15 to play, the Trojans climbed back into the lead briefly when Ratz­laff scored on a drive in the paint plus a bonus free throw with 1:55 left.

Unfortunately, those points turned out to be the final ones for the Trojans. Inman, meanwhile, hit 3-of-6 free throws, and post player Mason Thiessen scored on an inbounds play to carry the Teutons to the title.

“We had too many turnovers, starting in the middle of the second quarter,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “We just got called on things we normally haven’t been called on, but this time we did.

“You’ve got to give (Inman) credit, they played well,” he added. “We just didn’t get it done the way we needed to. It seemed like we were too tight (in the second half) and began to force them a little bit, aiming the ball rather than shooting it.

“But the guys played hard all the way through.”

Thiessen, an athletic 6-foot-8 junior, was a handful for the Trojans for much of the game. He led all scorers with 23 points and pulled down nine rebounds.

Ratzlaff led the Trojans with 15 points, while Shaw added 14 and Werth 13 in his final game as a Trojan.

As a team, Inman outshot the Trojans 43 percent (20-47) to 33 percent (19-53) from the floor. The two teams both shot 22 percent from behind the arc (Hillsboro 4-for-18. Inman at 2-for-9).

Inman will take a 13-9 record to the Class 2A state tournament next week in Manhattan, while Hillsboro ends its season with a 16-6 record.

Hillsboro 61, Moundridge 50

2A sub-state semifinals, March 2

Hillsboro boys took an early lead, expanded it to as many as 19 points through three quarters, then held off a Moundridge charge down the stretch to claim a convincing 61-50 victory in the semifinals of the Class 2A sub-state at Robert C. Brown Gymnasium.

The Trojans played terrific defense at the start as the Wildcats missed their first six shots and committed three turnovers in the first five minutes of the game.

When Caleb Potucek nailed a three at the 2:56 mark, the lead was 8-0. Darian Ratzlaff nailed a three with three seconds left in the quarter for an 11-6 lead at the first break.

Collin Kohl of the Wild­cats hit a three to start the second quarter, but the Wildcats would make only one field goal basket the rest of the period, enabling the Trojans to inflate the lead to 24-11 by halftime when Brodie Rathbone rebounded a missed shot and made the put-back at the buzzer despite a swarm of Wildcats around him.

With Hillsboro leading Moundridge 32-17 midway through the third quarter, the Trojans went on an 8-0 run in just over a minute for a 40-17 lead at 2:26. The Wildcats responded with a 2-pointer by Noah Eichelber­­ger and a 3-pointer by Peyton Fast to narrow the lead to 41-22 as the quarter ended.

The final quarter evolved into a foul-fest. Hillsboro made 11 of 16 charities during the quarter while Mound­ridge made 10 of 14.

Hillsboro made only two field goals (Potucek and Wes Shaw) while the Wildcats scored eight. Moundridge whittled the lead to single digits at 53-44 with 2:09 left, but the Trojans held on for the victory.

Four Trojans contributed double-digit points, led by Ratzlaff with 17, Shaw and Potucek with 14 each and Elias Werth with 11. Eichel­berger led Mound­ridge with 24 and Dillon Vogts added 10.

As team, Hillsboro shot 42 percent (19-45) from the floor and 5-15 from behind the arc. Moundridge shot 33 percent (17-51) but only 5-26 from 3-point land.

“I thought we were really sharp out of the gate tonight,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “We played really well for three quarters—the last quarter was tough because it was really rough in there, physically. We kept playing hard.

“We knew Moundridge was going to make a run, they’re too competitive not to. They got a couple of guys (who came off the bench) and gave them lift.”

Hillsboro 64, Goessel 24

2A sub-state quarterfinals, Feb. 27

Coming off a 10-day stretch without a game, thanks to wintry weather, the Hillsboro Trojans took to their home court Tuesday for the first round of the Class 2A sub-state tournament in Hillsboro. The Trojans, seeded No. 2 in the tournament, took care of Goessel, the No. 7 seed, with a running-clock victory.

With the Trojans adjusting to live competition again, the Bluebirds stayed with them for most of the first quarter. With 1:20 to go, Goessel trailed 11-8. The Trojans added three points in the final 35 seconds for a 14-5 lead at the first break.

The momentum changed abruptly as the second quarter began. Elias Werth hit a 2-pointer and Darian Ratzlaff nailed a 3-pointer for a 19-8 lead barely a minute into the quarter.

Wes Shaw, Hillsboro’s 6-2 post, took over from there, scoring eight points in the quarter as the Trojans turned on the gas for a 40-16 lead by halftime. By then, Hillsboro had three players scoring in double figures: Werth 14, Ratzlaff 11 and Shaw 10.

Even though, the outcome was essentially determined as the teams returned from their respective locker room. The Trojans didn’t slow down, launching a 16-5 run capped by Caleb Rem­pel’s back-to-back 3-point baskets for a 52-19 lead with 2:40 left in the quarter.

With the Trojans leading 60-21 as the third quarter ended, the fourth quarter was played with a running clock, by KSHSAA rules. Coach Darrel Knoll substituted freely to the final buzzer.

Werth led the Trojans with 18 points, Shaw added 16 and Ratzlaff 13.

“I thought we played really hard on the defensive end tonight,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “The first four minutes we were a little impatient on offense, the shots were open but I thought we could have worked it inside out a little more. Once we started doing that, things started rolling.

“It was a great team effort,” he added. “Guys came off the bench and really played hard. We really forced them out of anything they wanted to do offensively.”