Making a return to state tournament play after a 10-year absence, Hillsboro made barely 30 percent of its shots from the field?including 1-for-19 frustration behind the arc?and lost to Olpe, 59-42, Thursday in the first round of the Class 2A state basketball tournament in Manhattan.
If the chicken-or-the-egg question for basketball is, ?Does good defense cause poor shooting or does poor shooting make a defense look good?? the answer on this day would probably be a little of both.
Olpe proved itself worthy of its 20-3 record with aggressive play on both ends of the court, but it?s also true that the Trojans simply missed a lot of open shots they usually make, even layups.
?They made shots and we didn?t,? coach Darrel Knoll said about the course of the game. ?They moved the ball, and defensively we weren?t as sharp as we normally are.?
Evan Ollenburger scored the first point of the game by making one of two free throws, then scored on a drive to the hole after Olpe made its first basket to put Hillsboro back on top 3-2.
But that would be the Trojans? last lead of the game. By the end of the first period the Eagles led 17-10, then inflated the margin to 31-18 by halftime.
At intermission, Hills?boro was shooting 27 percent (6-22) from the floor. The usually light scoring Ollen???burger finished the half with seven points to tie Christian Ratzlaff as the team?s leading scorer.
While cold shooting was the most noticeable issue in this game, it wasn?t the only one.
?I just felt we were flat all the way around,? Knoll said. ?I didn?t think we would play like this by any means. It?s not the team we?ve been all year. And (Olpe) played really well. I?m not taking anything away from them at all. I just felt like we didn?t do what we normally do.?
If Trojan fans thought the second half couldn?t be worse, well, it was?at least in the third quarter. Hills?boro missed its first seven shots before Ollen?burger finally scored at the 2:41 mark. By then the Eagles had soared to a 42-18 lead.
By the end of the quarter, Olpe led 46-27 as Hillsboro managed only three baskets in 11 attempts.
To their credit, the Tro?jans pulled themselves together defensively in the fourth quarter and actually began to resemble the team their fans knew from the rest of the season.
Hillsboro forced eight Olpe turnovers during the final quarter. While the offense never caught fire, the Trojans were able to pull to within 14 points at 52-38 when Ollenburger scored off a steal with 4:34 to play.
?Our pressure hurt them at the end, but we just didn?t convert when we got the ball back,? Knoll said. ?That?s the way the whole game went. I think we were pressing too hard at the end, maybe.?
For the game, Hillsboro finished with 30 percent shooting (14-46) from the field while Olpe shot a blistering 59 percent (23-40), thanks in large part to baskets in the paint off penetration and rebounding.
The Eagles out-rebounded the Trojans 34 to 17.
Ratzlaff struggled to reach a team-high 14 points on 5-for-14 shooting, while the Trojans? other primary scoring threat, Brett Wein?brenner, managed six points on 2-for-12 shooting. Ollen?burger finished with nine points.
Beau Krueger led the Eagles with 18 points and Toby Smith added 14. Olpe advanced to the semifinals, where they lost by 10 points to the eventual champion, undefeated St. John-Hudson.
Hillsboro concluded an otherwise outstanding season with a 20-4 record. The Trojans will lose a strong senior core to graduation in Ratzlaff, Weinbrenner, Ollen?burger, Jesse Brown, Jordan Faul and Avery Franz.
?This one?s going to hurt for the guys because I know they all think they have more in them?which we do,? Knoll said.
?I told them at the end of the game that we had a great year. The guys beat some quality competition. The teams we lost to were really good teams. We played them all down to the wire.?