The Hillsboro boys, who played like Beauty three days earlier in an impressive 17-point win against Sterling, flashed back to their Beastly ways Friday—but still managed a 38-30 league win against Nickerson at Brown Gymnasium.
With three straight victories, the Trojans are 2-0 in the Central Kansas League and 6-4 overall. Nickerson slipped to 1-1 and 2-7.
“As poorly as we played offensively, we still got a win,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “Right now, the ‘W’ is good.”
Hillsboro struggled on offense from the start, shooting 4-for-13 from the floor in the opening quarter. Fortunately, the defense was up to the task and helped forge an 11-6 edge after one quarter by limiting the Panthers to 2-for-10 shooting.
By halftime the score stood at 17-14, with both teams looking for traction. In the third quarter, neither team scored until Micah Allen managed a basket in the paint on an assist from Josh Wiebe at the 4:19 mark.
Wiebe added two baskets of his own and Tyler Proffitt scored one, too, as Hillsboro bumped the lead to 25-19 at the final break. The two teams basically traded points and turnovers during the final period.
“Nickerson played really hard, but I thought we were a little impatient in our shot selection, and it really cost us,” Knoll said.
“When we did work our offense, we got good looks—but we’ve got to put some layups in, too. I know of at least six that we missed. We also missed free throws tonight. It was just a tough go, offensively.”
One bright light on offense was Wiebe, who finished with a season-high 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting after matching his season-high three days earlier with 10 points. He also led the team in assists with three and rebounds with seven.
“I thought he did a nice job of working the gaps in that zone,” Knoll said of his senior post. “He pretty much kept his head about him the whole night. He made some good passes, too. When we got the ball in to him, some good things happened.”
Key to Hillsboro’s win was a 32-19 edge in rebounds.
“Defensively we played tremendously tough all night,” Knoll said. “We rebounded and did a lot of good things. We were just sluggish offensively.”
Sterling—The Trojans enjoyed their best offensive game so far this season with an impressive 74-57 non-league win over the Black Bears at Sterling.
Six Trojans contributed at least eight points on the way to the season-high team score.
“We’ve been working hard in practice—pushing the ball and moving it on time and not hanging on to it all day,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “We watched some film and I think the guys saw what I was talking about.”
They seemed headed in a different direction in the early going as Sterling built a 7-2 lead in less than two minutes. But a basket by Josh Wiebe at the 6:04 mark ignited a 15-6 scoring surge that gave Hillsboro a 17-13 lead at the first break.
Brett Weinbrenner, enjoying his most productive game of the season, contributed six points in the final four minutes of the quarter. The junior scored seven more points in the second quarter to help the Trojans achieve back-to-back 17-point quarters for a 34-27 lead at halftime.
The third quarter proved to be Hillsboro’s best as the Trojans outscored the home team, 25-13, to take control of the contest. Weinbrenner contributed seven of those points, Harry Faber tossed in two three-point baskets and Tyler Proffitt, playing in only his second game of the season because of an injury, scored on two nice drives to the hole to help the Trojans build a 59-40 bulge by the end of the period.
The two teams more or less traded points through the fourth quarter as Hillsboro nailed down the 17-point victory.
Weinbrenner led all scorers with a season-high 23 points.
“I thought Brett did a lot better job tonight of exploring the offense, and if we didn’t have (a shot), then running a set or running our motion,” Knoll said. “As a result he got a lot more points tonight.”
Meanwhile, Faber tossed in 14 points and Wiebe 10, tying their season highs. Sophomore Micah Allen didn’t quite break double digits, but he made easily his biggest offensive contribution this season with nine points while Proffitt and Shaq Thiessen each added eight.
“I kept telling the guys that sharper passes, on time, are going to get us points,” Knoll said. “If we’re going to be stagnant, we will be frustrated all year. Hopefully, we can build on this and continue to grow.”
Kirk Engelland and Austin Maxwell scored 21 and 20 points, respectively, to lead Sterling, who dropped to 2-7.
Coming—Hillsboro, seeded fifth, was scheduled to open play Tuesday at the Trojan Classic against fourth-seeded Republic County (8-2).
The outcome will determine whether the Trojans play the winner of No. 1 Wamego (7-1) versus No. 8 Goodland (3-6) in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday, or the loser of that game at 4:45 p.m. Friday.
For same-night reports during the tournament, call the Free Line at 947-3363 or go to hillsborofreepress.com for stories and photos.
Completing this year’s field are Hesston (No. 2, 8-1), Holcomb (No. 3, 6-3), Thomas More Prep (No. 6, 3-6) and Riley County (No. 7, 2-7).