Hillsboro boys defeat Marion on the road, 45-37

Austin Cross, Hillsboro?s 6-foot-7 post player, battles three Marion defenders, including Bret Voth and Jacob Baldwin, to score the first basket of Tuesday?s game in Marion. Cross scored eight points in the Trojans? 45-37 win. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

The third quarter proved to be a game-changer in Hills?boro?s 45-37 win over Marion on the Warriors? home court Tuesday.

With the win, Hillsboro improved to 8-5 while Marion slipped to 2-11.

Leading 18-15 at halftime, the Trojans outscored the home team 20-12 during the pivotal period to take charge of their destiny.

?The last four or five games we just haven?t come out in the third quarter,? Hillsboro coach Darrel Knoll said. ?I thought our energy improved tremendously. Part of it was I felt we let up a little bit in the second quarter.?

Hillsboro capitalized on its defensive pressure to build a 14-4 lead through the first quarter, which ended with a traditional three-point play by Micah Allen to give the Trojans a double-digit edge.

But Marion did not yield. The Warriors? effort on the defensive end contributed to some chilly shooting by the Trojans (1-for-8 from the field), enabling Marion to close the gap to three points as the first half ended.

Marion then tied the game 19 seconds into the third quarter on a traditional three-point play by Nicholas Stuchlik.

Hillsboro?s Austin Cross hit a pair of free throws at the other end, but Marion freshman Jack Schneider hit two of three charities after he was fouled on a shot behind the arc.

With the score tied at 22, the Trojans made their move. Braden Vogt?s basket at the 6:47 mark ignited an 11-0 run that ended with a basket by Cross off a nice feed from Elias Werth with 2:45 left in the period.

The two teams traded points the rest of the quarter, which ended with Hillsboro leading, 38-27.

After Allen started the fourth-quarter with a three to boost the lead to 14, Marion rallied one last time, slowly building a 7-0 run?including two baskets by Nicholas Stuch?lik?over a span of 5:11. Josh Funk scored for Hillsboro at the 1:35 mark to make the score 43-34.

Nicholas Stuchlik shoots for two during the first quarter Tuesday as Hillsboro?s Kentrell Miller defends. Stuchlik scored seven points in Marion?s 45-37 loss. Janae Rempel / Free Press

The Trojans then held on down the stretch for the eight-point victory.

Knoll said his team needed a victory after losing its last two tournament games the previous week. But he?s still looking for more consistent play from start to finish.

?The first and third quarters were good, and if we had made some shots early in the fourth quarter it wouldn?t have been quite as interesting at the end,? he said.

?As long as we are playing hard, we?re pretty solid,? Knoll added. ?But as soon as we let up, then things don?t go our way. We?ve got to keep working on intensity and execution for a longer period of time.?

Meanwhile, Marion coach Jeff McMillin said his young team continues to progress.

?It?s taken a great effort from us to get to where we?re competitive,? McMillin said. ?The next mountain we have to climb is probably a tougher one because you?ve got to do the small things throughout the course of the game that allow you to get over the hump and win the game.

?We can?t go 8-of-21 from the free-throw line,? he added. ?We?ve got to finish at the rim a little bit better, too. Free throws and finishing at the rim were big.?

Coming?Hillsboro is scheduled to play a league game Tuesday at Nickerson (2-11), a team the Trojans defeated in their season opener. On Friday, Pratt (6-6) will come to Brown Gymna?sium with the tip-off around 7:30 p.m.

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