Whether it was an energized Pratt defense or simply a sub-par offensive performance by Hills?boro, the Tro?jans struggled all night to establish some offensive rhythm.
In the end it cost them their undefeated season as they slipped to 7-1 overall and 0-1 in the league.
Hillsboro grabbed a 4-0 lead at the start, but by the end of the first period, Pratt led 13-11 with two baskets in the final 14 seconds.
The Trojans played their best basketball in the second period, limiting Pratt to only two field goals. For Hills?boro, Weinbrenner and Jordan Faul drained three-pointers and Christian Ratzlaff capped the scoring by making all three free throws after he was fouled on a shot from behind the arc with 1:05 left in the half.
Hillsboro led at intermission, 28-21, and seemed ready to take control of the game.
But as the third period started, it became obvious Pratt was not about to roll over. Driving aggressively to the hoop on almost every possession?either scoring or drawing fouls?the Green?backs cut the lead to 34-33 with 2:30 left in the period.
Weinbrenner drained a three-pointer and later scored off a steal to push the lead back to six. But a Pratt basket on another drive in the paint with 46 seconds left cut the margin to 39-35 at the final break.
The fourth quarter evolved into a free-throw contest. After making all nine of their charity shots in the first half, the Trojans cooled off at the worst time possible, making only five of 10 down the stretch.
Trailing 47-43 with 48.9 seconds to play and Pratt?s Derek Barnard standing at the free-throw line with a chance to put the game away, the Trojans needed a break.
They got one. Barnard missed the front end of the one-and-one, and Hillsboro rebounded. The Trojans missed two shots, but Ratz?laff was fouled on the rebound. The senior made the first free throw, but the official waved off the second one when Ratzlaff?s foot crossed the line.
With 21.2 seconds to go, Brandon Ruckle stood at the free-throw line with a chance to expand Pratt?s 47-44 lead. But he missed the front end of a one-and-one, Hillsboro rebounded and then Micah Allen drained a dramatic three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 47.
But after the inbounds pass, Jordan Faul was called for a blocking foul in the backcourt as Pratt?s Jacob Kurz dribbled hard down the sideline. With 4.3 seconds left, Kurz made only one of two free throws, giving Hillsboro one last chance to win the game.
Following a timeout, Wein?brenner pushed the ball up the court and got off a shot along the lane as the buzzer sounded. The shot hit the rim and bounced off.
Ratzlaff led Hillsboro with 17 points?scoring all but three in the first half. Weinbrenner added 16. The usually sure-shooting Tro?jans made only 30 percent of their shots, including 5-of-21 from behind the arc.
?We didn?t move the ball and we got caught standing and didn?t shoot well,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?The whole game I thought we pressed on our shots and just never got in rhythm.?
The Trojans weren?t overmatched in size, but they were out-rebounded, 33-22.
?It was an extremely physical game tonight,? Knoll said. ?In any other game we played, we would have got a lot of the rebounds they got because there would have been a foul.
?We really got exposed tonight on a couple of things,? he added. ?We?ve got to look at it, come back and improve on it?and understand that we can?t just go out and expect (the game) to turn out our way.?
Smoky Valley?It took a couple of minutes to get the Trojan train rumbling on offense, but its aggressive defense is what ultimately fueled a 34-point rout of the winless Vikings (0-6) Tues?day in Lindsborg.
?I thought we played hard,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?We came out after it. We moved the ball well, ran the court hard. Defensively, the guys were just tough.?
With the game tied at 2-2, Evan Ollenburger scored in the paint to spark a 10-2 run that was capped by Jordan Faul?s three-pointer with 3:58 left in the first quarter.
After Micah Allen added a three-pointer, then hit a baseline jumper just over a minute later, Hillsboro led 19-6 as the quarter ended.
Over the last 4:38 of the second quarter, four different Trojans contributed three-pointers?Allen, Faul, Brett Weinbrenner and Christian Ratzlaff?for a 15-4 surge and a 39-14 lead at intermission.
Hillsboro kept its foot on the pedal in the third quarter, inflating the lead to 57-23 by the buzzer. Six Trojans contributed points.
The continuous clock?and solid play by Hillsboro?s reserves?made fast work of the final quarter.
Allen finished as the team?s top scorer with 13 points, including three three-point baskets. Close behind were Weinbrenner and Ratzlaff with 11 points each and Faul with nine.
As a team, HHS shot just under 55 percent from the floor (23-42), including 50 percent (9-18) from behind the arc. On defense, the Trojans prompted 24 Viking turn?overs and limited the home team to 39 percent shooting on 14 fewer shots.
We keep progressing each game,? Knoll said. ?It was good to see us keep going hard once we got a lead. I was really pleased with our effort all night.
?I was happy about the fourth quarter with the guys who finished the game,? he added. ?And I was very pleased with the top seven (players).?
Coming?The Trojans were scheduled to host a 2-6 Sterling team Tuesday, then will travel to Nickerson (2-4) Friday for their final game before the Trojan Classic.