Trojans split with Hesston, Halstead

Darian Ratzlaff splits two Swather defenders during Hillsboro’s game with Hesston Friday. Ratzlaff scored a team-high 16 points in Hillsboro’s 51-44 loss.
Darian Ratzlaff splits two Swather defenders during Hillsboro’s game with Hesston Friday. Ratzlaff scored a team-high 16 points in Hillsboro’s 51-44 loss.
The Hillsboro boys gave the top-ranked team in Class 3A a run for its money Friday, but the Swathers held off the Trojans’ upset bid, 51-44, at Brown Gymna­sium.

Having lost to Hesston by 15 points in the championship game of the Trojan Classic less than a month earlier, the Trojans were on a mission at the start.

Hesston scored the first basket, but Hillsboro responded with a 10-0 run that ended when the Swathers scored a free-throw at the 2:54 mark. The Trojans led 16-10 when the quarter ended.

Carson Herbel scored a layup off a pass from Darian Ratzlaff 20 seconds into the second period to push the lead back to eight points. But the Trojans didn’t score again until Herbel scored in the paint with only eight seconds left in the period. Hills­boro’s drought enabled Hesston to pull into a 20-20 tie by halftime.

Hillsboro led 26-24 with 5:06 to play in the third quarter, but the Trojans slid into another scoring drought until Herbel stepped up with a basket at the 1:34 mark. When the quarter ended, Hesston led 35-33.

“The turnovers cost us,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “In the third quarter when we didn’t score, that’s when they got their lead. Most of those we were trying to go a little too fast in the offense rather than give ourselves a better look at it.”

Preston Loewen reclaimed the lead for Hillsboro when he nailed a three 19 seconds into the final quarter. But Hesston scored the next five points and never trailed again. The Swathers led by as many as eight points with 1:38 to play before nailing down the seven-point victory.

The Trojans were victims of the Swathers’ two-guard Zach attack. Zach Esau scored 19 points and Zach Vogt added 17 to lead the team. Ratzlaff finished with a team-high 16 points and Werth added 11 to pace Hills­boro.

Hesston, 18-1 for the season, clinched the Central Kansas League title with a 10-0 record. Hillsboro suffered its second loss in league play to go with seven wins, and slipped to 14-5 for the season.

Halstead—Hillsboro struggled to establish a two-point lead by halftime, but pulled away in the second half for a 55-40 victory over Halstead Tuesday in the Dragons’ lair.

The Trojans spent much of the first half adjusting to the presence of Halstead’s 6-foot, 10-inch, 310-pound post player, Wyatt Seibel. The gentle giant played for brief stints, and while he wasn’t particularly athletic, he presented an intimidating presence in the paint through the first two quarters.

Seibel gave Halstead a 4-0 start with two baskets deep in the paint. But three-point baskets by Carson Herbel and Elias Werth helped the Trojans take a 7-6 lead by the time the quarter ended.

Halstead scored the first seven points of the second quarter, but the Trojans regrouped for a 16-8 surge to take a 23-21 lead into intermission. Werth contributed six points during the rally.

“The first half I thought we were way too impatient offensively,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “It wasn’t that we took bad shots, we just rushed them.”

Hillsboro kicked up its game a notch or two in the second half on both ends of the court.

Two-point baskets by Werth, Herbel and Darian Ratzlaff, plus a three by Preston Loewen, expanded the lead to 32-23 at the 5:39 mark of the third quarter. Hillsboro led by as many as 10 (38-28) before settling for a 38-31 lead as the quarter ended.

The fourth quarter belonged to Hillsboro with a 17-9 finish. Ratzlaff scored nine points while Joe Knoll, Werth, Loe­wen and Wes Shaw each chipped in two.

“The second half we were much more under control offensively,” Knoll said. “We pushed the ball decently in the first half, but in the second half we attacked the basket a lot better.”

The win improved Hills­boro’s record to 14-4 for the season and 7-1 in the league while Halstead dropped to 11-7 and 3-5.

Coming—Hillsboro was scheduled to close its regular season Tuesday at Smoky Valley. For a same-night report of that game go to hillsborofreepress.com.