Trojans falter vs. state-ranked Hesston, Halstead -Boy’s Results

Hillsboro’s Darian Ratzlaff scores two of the 29 points he scored during Friday’s loss to Hesston. A hot shooting start by Hesston was more than the Trojans could overcome.
Hillsboro’s Darian Ratzlaff scores two of the 29 points he scored during Friday’s loss to Hesston. A hot shooting start by Hesston was more than the Trojans could overcome.
Three days after a double-overtime loss at home to state-ranked Halstead, the Hillsboro boys encountered a hot-shooting Hesston team that didn’t miss a shot until the final minute of a 22-13 first quarter.

The Trojans battled, but couldn’t recover in the 64-53 loss against No. 5 ranked Hesston in Class 3A.

The Swathers’ Reece Nebel scorched the nets for 15 points in the opening quarter and compiled 23 points by halftime as Hess­ton dug the Trojans a 36-21 deficit by intermission.

“They shot lights-out in the first quarter,” coach Darrel Knoll said of the Swathers. “We weren’t great on defense, but they just hit every shot they put up. It’s pretty tough to defend when everything is going in.”

While No. 14 Nebel was having a hot shooting night for Hesston, Hillsboro’s No. 14, Elias Werth, was battling the opposite extreme. The Trojan senior leader missed every shot he took—whether from the floor or free-throw line—before he finally broke the ice by nailing a 3-point basket with 1:11 left in the third quarter.

Hesston was leading 45-27 by that point and led 45-30 as the third quarter ended.

“The shots he’s taking are shots he’s made all year.” Knoll said about Werth. “He just he needs to get his confidence back, and maybe look at his fundamentals. Any little thing might get him going again.”

While Werth was battling through his shooting funk, teammate Darian Ratzlaff stepped up to help fill the void by scoring 29 points. Nebel, meanwhile, finished with 31 points as his team nailed down the 64-53 victory.

“I thought we started off well, getting good shots inside,” Knoll said. “Some­how we went away from that and it got us into foul trouble—that really cost us, given the depth we don’t have.

“We’ve got good guys off the bench, but we also need guys like Wes (Shaw) and Brodie (Rathbone) on the court as an inside presence.

“But we’ve got to make some shots, too. We’re missing shots we should make and have made all year. We’re just not putting the ball in the basket. We just need to settle down and just shoot the basketball.”

Halstead—Hillsboro had Halstead, the No. 4 ranked team in Class 3A, on the ropes in the fourth quarter, but the Dragons battled the Trojans into not one but two overtimes before earning a hard-fought 56-49 victory

The game started slowly on the scoreboard. Halstead led 11-7 after the first quarter and 16-15 after two quarters.

In the third quarter, the Trojans caught fire, coming out of halftime with a 9-2 run in the first 1:30 for a 24-18 lead. Wes Shaw fueled the surge with a 3-point basket and a pair of 2-pointers for seven of his 19 points in the game. By the end of the third quarter, the Trojans led 35-26.

The game turned in the fourth quarter. Elias Werth scored in the lane to give Hillsboro its biggest lead of the night at 37-28 with 4:47 left in the game.

But a 3-point basket by Halstead’s Baylor Bohling, followed by a pair of free throws from teammate Braden Gerber, cut the lead to 37-33.

Darian Ratzlaff responded with a traditional 3-point play for his first points of the night, pushing the lead back to seven. But the atmosphere in the gym was beginning to swing Halstead’s way.

Even so, the Trojans were still up by two scores, 42-38, with 42.6 seconds to play in regulation. But Gerber hit two more free throws and Kason O’Neal scored at the buzzer for a 42-42 tie as time ran out.

The two teams entered the first overtime with intensity, but not much scoring. Shaw hit two free throws at the 2:09 mark and O’Neal hit both ends of a one-and-one with 1:08 left, but neither team scored the rest of the period.

In the second overtime, Halstead caught fire. O’Neal drained a 3-point and a 2-point shot in the span of 17 seconds for a 49-44 lead. Two more free throws from Gerber put Halstead on top 51-44 with 2:45 left.

Werth pulled Hillsboro back into contention with back-to-back 2-point baskets to draw within 51-48. But Halstead made five of six free throws in the final 56 seconds to keep the Trojans at bay. A final charity toss by Werth with 16 seconds left completed the 56-49 final score.

Werth was the game’s high scorer with 23 points, but Shaw was close behind with 19. As a team, Hillsboro made a third of their shots (17-51) from the field while Halstead was slightly behind at 51 percent (17-54).

With the loss, Hillsboro slipped to 14-4 with Hesston coming up on Friday.

Coming—Hillsboro (14-5, 7-3) is scheduled to complete the regular season Tuesday when Smoky Valley (12-7, 6-3) comes to Robert C. Brown Gymna­sium.

Hillsboro will be hosting the Class 2A substate tournament next week. Joining the Trojans in the eight-team field are Canton-Galva, Berean Academy, Goessel, Hering­ton, Inman, Marion and Moundridge.