Trojans suffer first loss to SES

The Hillsboro boys let an eight-point fourth-quarter lead slip away, and it cost them their first defeat of the season in a 57-53 decision against South­east of Saline Thurs­day at Brown Gym­nasium.

Both teams came into the game undefeated and state ranked. Earlier in the week, Hillsboro made its first appearance in the Kan­sas Basketball Coaches Associa­tion as the No. 9 team in Class 2A and had a chance for a statement win against Southeast, ranked seventh in 3A.

The game started slowly for the home team. SES jumped to a 5-0 lead before Hillsboro finally broke the ice on a pair of free throws by Elias Werth with 3:04 left in the first period. By the end of it, the visiting Tro­jans led the home team, 9-6.

By halftime SES led, 17-16, after Hills­boro’s Wes Shaw scored in the paint with 27 second left.

The low-scoring standoff took a major turn in the second half. Hillsboro came out on fire offensively. The home team pieced together a 14-7 surge in the first 4:43 to build a 30-24 lead after a steal and basket by Preston Loewen.

Darian Ratzlaff contributed three three-point baskets during the run and Carson Herbel added one.

By the end of the quarter, Hillsboro led 39-34 when Werth drained a final three with 17 seconds left.

The home team maintained control of the contest as the final quarter began. In fact, when Loewen hit a 12-foot jumper with 5:19 left, Hillsboro enjoyed its biggest lead of the game, 46-38.

But SES did not give up—despite missing six consecutive free throws over the next 1:30. After a timeout to regroup, Southeast turned up its defensive pressure, scoring layups on back-to-back steals to ignite a 10-0 run that propelled Southeast back into the lead at 48-46 with 2:43 to play.

“We struggled to get anything going our way from the middle of the third quarter on,” coach Darrel Knoll said. “They did a good job of driving on us, and that was when the whole tide kind of changed.”

Hillsboro never fully recovered, and was unable to get a shot to drop until Werth scored in the final seconds for the 57-53 final score.

Ratzlaff led Hills­boro with 15 points and Loewen added 12 as Hills­boro slipped to 4-1 for the season.

“We played to win tonight,” Knoll said. “I know we ended up losing, but the guys played hard against a really good team. We played well enough that we deserved to win, but it just didn’t happen that way.”

Coming—Hillsboro was scheduled to complete its pre-holiday season with a game at Marion on Tuesday. Go to hillsborofreepress.com for same-night coverage.

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