The drought is over. Hills?boro boys claimed their first Trojan Classic championship since 2005 with a 57-44 victory Saturday night over Hesston.
Hillsboro capped an impressive week of basketball with a solid start-to-finish performance against its league rival.
Sophomores Christian Ratz?laff and Brett Weinbrenner have been on-and-off offensively this season, but Satur?day they both shot lights-out in the first half.
The duo scored all of Hills?boro?s points for a 17-11 lead after the first quarter, then scored 10 of the team?s 18 points in the second quarter as the Trojans posted a 35-24 advantage at intermission.
?It was a good night for that to happen,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?They?re good shots. A lot of that came off great offensive moves, and the extra pass for a wide open shot. You could tell those guys were fired up and ready to play tonight.?
As a team, Hillsboro shot a sizzling 60 percent (15-25) from the floor in the first half.
After Ratzlaff and Wein?brenner each chipped in two more points to start the third period, Hillsboro entered a brief lull on offense, enabling Hesston to crawl back to within 41-30 with a 6-2 surge.
But Weinbrenner scored on a drive to the hole and Shaq Thiessen added two baskets within 14 seconds during the final minute as Hillsboro pushed the margin back to 13 points, 47-34, by the end of the third quarter.
The two teams essentially traded points the rest of the way as Hillsboro wrapped up the tournament championship.
?We felt like we could get out and pressure them, and that would cause them to rush their shots and give us some turn?overs,? Knoll said. ?I thought we did a good job of that throughout the entire game.
?I thought we played extremely hard on the defensive end. Down the stretch we executed well enough to put the game away. It was a satisfying win for us.?
Weinbrenner finished with 20 points and Ratzlaff 18. Thiessen made another huge impact as the Trojans? sixth man, scoring 11 points. With five wins in a row, Hills?boro improved to 10-3 for the year while Hesston?s record dropped to 7-5.
?This entire tournament we played with a lot more spring in our step,? Knoll said. ?Even when we didn?t get a fast break we were running up the court hard. I was pleased with a lot of things we did in the tournament. It?s been a step in the right direction.?
HHS 51, Thomas More Prep 36
Two huge three-point baskets by Shaq Thiessen ignited a 19-6 surge in the final quarter that gave the Trojans a deceptive 15-point victory over TMP in their semifinals matchup Friday.
The Monarchs were leading 30-26 in the third period when Thiessen scored a two-point basket with 44 seconds left. Luke Moore then made one of two free throws after TMP?s Drew O?Brien was called for a technical foul with 9.9 seconds to go.
Thiessen made TMP pay when Hillsboro was awarded possession by nailing a three-pointer at the buzzer to give HHS a 32-30 lead and a huge momentum boost.
Thiessen then duplicated his buzzer-beater heroics when he hit another three 35 seconds into the fourth quarter. Josh Wiebe followed with a basket in the paint off a great no-look bounce-pass assist from Jesse Allen.
When Moore scored in the paint on a nice assist from Brett Weinbren?ner, he ignited a 9-0 run to the finish line.
Prior to Hillsboro?s late fireworks, the game was a defensive standoff. TMP took an early 9-2 lead before the Trojans launched 9-0 run to lead 11-9 at the first break.
The battle continued into the second period. A basket by Wiebe with 2:12 left in the half tied the game at 19, and neither team managed another point before intermission.
Thiessen finished with 13 points coming off the bench. Ratzlaff added 11. As a team, the Trojans shot 35 percent (19-54) from the floor, compared to 36 percent (13-36) by TMP.
?First half, we were getting open looks but were just forcing things offensively,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?I talked a lot at halftime about settling down, relaxing and just shooting the basket?ball. In the second half, I thought we did a lot better job.?
In addition to limiting TMP to 18 fewer shots from the floor, the Trojans? defense forced 23 Monarch turnovers to Hills?boro?s eight for a 23-7 edge in points off mistakes.
?Defensively, they tried to run their set and we did not allow them to do that,? Knoll said. ?I was nervous how we might defend those, but we did a nice job of recognizing, and were able to get through some screens.
?I thought the guys played to win tonight down the stretch and that was great to see.?
HHS 61, Goodland 27
Hillsboro delivered a 26-4 knockout in the second quarter to cruise to an impressive first-round victory Jan. 17.
Leading 14-9 after the opening period, the Trojans used their defense to crush the Cowboys? hopes.
HHS forced seven turnovers in the quarter and limited Goodland to 1-for-9 shooting while running the floor well offensively for 10-for-17 shooting. Eight Trojans contributed points as Hillsboro extended the lead at halftime to 40-13.
?One key toward the end of the first quarter was that we quit the one-pass-shoot business and started getting really good shots,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?Plus, we got some second shots out of it if we missed.?
Goodland looked a defeated team in the second half, never mounting much of an attack. Hillsboro led 61-23 by the end of the third period, which kicked in the continuous clock for the entire fourth quarter.
Brett Weinbrenner paced Hillsboro with 12 points, all in the first half. Shaq Thiessen came off the bench to score 11 points. Six other Trojans contributed at least five points.
?I thought we played great,? Knoll said. ?We turned up the pressure on defense, got some good steals and ran the floor really hard tonight.
Coming?Hillsboro (10-3) has no games scheduled for this week. The Trojans will return to action Jan. 31 when they host a rematch with Hesston in a league matchup.