Hillsboro prevailed 50-38 in a physical battle Friday at Kingman.
The 12-point win was closer than the score might indicate. The way the officials were calling the game, the Trojans had to flip their playing style from finesse to physical in order to secure the victory.
Both teams struggled to score points at the start. Kingman hit a 2-point and 3-point basket out of the gate for a 5-0 lead. Baskets by Darian Ratzlaff, Elias Werth and Brooks Gardner vaulted the Trojans into a 6-5 lead with 43 seconds left. But Kingman’s Tanner Albright scored in the waning seconds for a 7-6 Eagle lead at the first break.
Hillsboro came out aggressively in the second quarter with Darian Ratzlaff generating eight points. A 3-point basket by Werth with 39 seconds left gave Hillsboro a 21-12 lead at intermission.
The two teams seemed to amp up the physical play as the third quarter began. With Hillsboro leading 30-20, the Trojans literally shut down the Eagle offense until Payton Willert sank a pair of free throws with 2.6 seconds left in the quarter.
Hillsboro, meanwhile, was holding on to a 35-33 lead with one quarter to go.
The pressure was on Kingman to orchestrate a rally in the fourth quarter, but the two teams played to a 15-15 standoff as the game ended.
“For a moment there, I thought maybe we weren’t as composed as we normally are, especially on offense,” coach Darrel Knoll said afterward. “But we played solid defense all night. I was really pleased that in a game like this we toughed up a little bit and did enough to win.
“Overall, it was a really good effort by the guys,” he added. “I thought we forced it a little bit offensively, and came up with some empty possessions. But at least we were aggressive and were playing to win tonight.”
Ratzlaff led the Trojans with 20 points and Werth added 17 as the Trojans improved to 14-3 for the season. Kingman, who slipped to 8-9 for the season were led by Albright’s 18 points.
Shooting percentages were similar for both teams, but Hillsboro had the scoring edge at the free-throw line, making 15 of 29 attempts while Kingman made six of nine.
Lyons—Hillsboro led the Lions (1-6, 3-12) by only two points after one quarter, but the talent disparity between the two teams became more pronounced with each passing quarter on the way to a 60-31 Trojan victory at Lyons.
The Trojans fought tooth and nails to take a 13-11 edge after one quarter. Wes Shaw scored four points as the quarter started and Darian Ratzlaff tossed in five points in the final 1:38.
“(Lyons) played well at the start—they got to the rim, they made some shots. Lyons always plays hard, it’s always going to be a battle here.”
Both teams struggled to score as the second quarter began. When Ratzlaff scored in the lane at the 5:27 mark, Hillsboro led 16-13.
After a basket by Lyons on the next possession, the Trojans launched 10-0 streak before Lyons’ Brayden Fundenberger hit a pair of free throws to break the home-team drought with 45 seconds left. Hillsboro led 26-17 as the first half ended.
“We started out not shooting very well,” coach Darrel Knoll said about his team. “We’ve just got to get that rhythm back. We have good shooters, and I’m confident we’ll get that going.”
The Trojans got it going in the third quarter, seizing control of the game with a 19-6 surge. Ratzlaff contributed six points and Brooks Gardner and Elias Werth scored five each to fuel the rally.
Hillsboro began the fourth quarter with a 22-point lead (45-23) and ended the game with a 29-point margin (60-31). Hillsboro’s largest separation was 59-28 with less than a minute left.
Shaw and Ratzlaff each scored 15 points and Elias Werth added 14 to lead the offense.
As a team, the Trojans shot 39 percent (22-57) from the floor, but only 3-24 from behind the arc. Lyons managed 26 percent shooting (12-46) and was 0-3 from three.
Hillsboro had the advantage at the free-throw line, making 13 of 18, while Lyons converted five in 11 attempts.
“I thought really in the second half we did a better job of forcing some turnovers and getting some run-outs,” Knoll said. “We did a nice job of scoring in the paint, taking some charges, making it tough on them.
“I thought we cleaned up the boards pretty well and got play out of everybody on the team.”
The win improved Hillsboro’s league record to 5-1 and its season record to 13-3.
Coming—Hillsboro will be challenged again this week. The Trojans were scheduled to host Halstead on Tuesday. The Dragons are 14-3 for the season and ranked No. 7 in Class 3A.
On Friday, Hillsboro travels to Hesston. The Swathers have a 13-4 record .Hillsboro will complete the regular season Feb. 20 when Smoky Valley comes to Brown Gymnasium.