The Hillsboro boys bounced back from a poor first half to beat Thomas More Prep 58-49 with a huge fourth-quarter rally to claim fifth place at the Trojan Classic Saturday afternoon.
Coach Darrel Knoll said he was pleased with his team’s tournament results.
“Considering the level of competition in this tournament, I think two wins is really good,” he said.
The second win didn’t come easily, though. Committing an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers in the first half, and making only five of 19 shots from the field, Hillsboro found itself in a 27-19 hole at intermission.
“I thought the first half we just played too fast on offense,” Knoll said. “It seemed like we were rushing shots.”
“(TMP) scored 27, but seven or eight of those were off silly turnovers for easy baskets. You take seven or eight points away and it’s a solid half.”
What the Trojans may have lacked in finesse, they made up for with grit. Over the first three minutes of the third quarter, they whittled TMP’s lead to three points. By the end of the period, Hillsboro was within two, 36-34.
The home team took its first lead since late in the first quarter when Brett Weinbrenner completed a traditional three-point play and Shaq Thiessen scored on a put-back for a 39-37 edge.
But the Trojans suffered through one more ragged stretch before launching the final assault. While Hillsboro squandered five possessions with two turnovers and three missed shots, the Monarchs retook the lead at 45-39 with an 8-0 run.
Thiessen’s three-point basket with 3:03 to play stopped the bleeding. Weinbrenner then scored on two drives to the basket, the last one topped with a bonus free throw. Suddenly, the Trojans and Monarchs were deadlocked at 47 with 2:23 to go.
Hillsboro used its full-court pressure to force turnovers on TMP’s next three possessions, and cashed them in for four points and a 51-47 lead.
The Trojans missed two free throws with 48.9 seconds left to leave the door open for TMP. But Evan Ollenburger scored in the lane on a nice assist from Thiessen, then Micah Allen, Weinbrenner and Josh Wiebe combined for 5-for-6 shooting at the line to nail the door shut with a 14-2 run over the final 2:23.
Weinbrenner led the Trojans with 21 points while Thiessen added 15.
“I was proud of the guys because it would have been easy to give up when we were down by five or six late in the game. But we kept on fighting and were able to make enough shots to keep close—and then when we got the lead, we held it.”
Hillsboro 69, Goodland 40
Playing loose but focused, the Hillsboro boys played one of their most productive games of the season, taking care of Goodland, 69-40, in the consolation semifinals Friday at the Trojan Classic.
Coach Darrel Knoll credited his team’s defense for the win and for the offensive production.
“I thought we were a lot more focused,” he said. “We’ve played tough defense all year, but I thought we picked people up better, I thought we were in a position to create more turnovers.
“Active defense leads to better offense,” he added. “I thought we moved the ball well at times, and when we moved the ball we got to the rim.”
The Trojans trailed Goodland 5-4 three minutes into the game, but Evan Ollenburger scored in the lane to launch an 8-0 run that put the Trojans in the driver’s seat for good.
After Goodland broke the run with another three-pointer, the Trojans finished the opening quarter with a 6-1 spurt for an 18-9 lead at the break. Hillsboro was up 31-18 by halftime.
As the third quarter began, Hillsboro struggled for points, enabling the Cowboys to narrow the margin to 33-24. But another three by Shaq Thiessen at the 4:20 mark lit the fuse for a 15-4 explosion over the next 2:38.
Hillsboro finished the quarter with a 53-30 lead; Thiessen scored 13 points during the period and finished with a career-high 26 points. Brett Weinbrenner added 13 and Micah Allen 10.
As a team, Hillsboro shot nearly 63 percent from the field (30-48) while limiting the Cowboys to 24 percent accuracy.
“We’re good when we play good, solid, disciplined basketball,” Knoll said. “We’re not as good when we try to force the shots too quickly.”
Republic Co. 46, Hillsboro 42
First round, Tuesday
The Trojans fell victim to Republic County’s clutch shooting late in their first-round game.
“That was a game I really thought we should have won,” coach Darrell Knoll said. “I’m not taking anything away from Republic, but we just didn’t shoot the ball well, especially the first part of the game.”
Hillsboro fell behind as much as 11-5 in the first quarter before Brett Weinbrenner’s three-point basket drew the Trojans to within three at the first break.
Hillsboro appeared to take charge in the second quarter, opening with an 11-0 run for a 19-11 lead with 3:45 left in the half.
Weinbrenner scored six of those points and Shaq Thiessen the other five. But the Buffaloes finished the last 1:38 of the quarter with a 7-0 run to pull to within a point at intermission.
“I thought that was the biggest key of the game when we didn’t finish the first half,” Knoll said. “The first six or seven possessions, we tried to make too much happen too fast after making a steal and ended up having a turnover.
“If we had just taken care of the ball and not allowed them to score, we could have maintained a lead.”
The momentum swing carried into the third quarter. After Thiessen scored on a put-back for Hillsboro, the Buffaloes surged into the lead with a 6-2 burst over the next 1:47. The two teams finished the quarter with back-and-forth scoring until a free throw by Jesse Brown with 1.3 seconds left put the Trojans ahead at the end, 30-29.
A basket by Tyler Proffitt early in the fourth quarter boosted the lead to three points, but the Buffaloes suddenly became sharpshooters. A three by Jeff Hadachek and two-point baskets by Zach Brzon and Trevor Allen put Republic County on top, 36-33.
Hillsboro tied the game at 36 with 3:55 to go on a free throw by Weinbrenner and a basket by Josh Wiebe. But Trenton Huhlman hit a three-pointer with 2:34 left that ignited an 8-2 Buffalo burst that proved to be the difference in the game as Republic claimed a 44-38 advantage with a minute to go.
Hillsboro didn’t roll over. Wiebe scored off a steal by Weinbrenner with 37 seconds left. After the Buffaloes missed the front end of a one-and-one, Weinbrenner sank a long two-pointer with 2.5 seconds to go.
Hillsboro called a quick timeout, then fouled Kuhlman with 1.1 seconds left to maintain a glimmer of hope. But Kuhlman drained both free throws to nail down the victory.
Weinbrenner finished with 16 points to lead the Trojans.
Coming—With the week off from competition, the Trojans will resume play Jan. 29 with a rematch against Sterling, a team they defeated on the road Jan. 8 by 17 points. This game, before the home crowd, will count for league standings.