Hillsboro?s 48-42 loss to Hutchinson Trinity in the first round of sub-state tournament play last Tuesday marked a disappointing end to the 2014-15 season?but it followed a familiar pattern that has characterized the team?s fortunes down the stretch.
The Trojans played hard all night, led for much of the first half, then saw victory slip away late in a flurry of missed shots and a sprinkle of untimely turnovers.
Micah Allen got Hillsboro going in the opening minutes, hitting a three-pointer and two-pointer before the home team got on the scoreboard at the 4:13 mark.
With Preston Loewen adding back-to-back baskets, David Dick hitting a three and Loewen scoring on a drive in the lane, the Trojans were standing strong with a 14-5 lead as the quarter ended.
But Hillsboro hit a scoring lull as the second quarter began. It didn?t end until Allen hit a field goal at the 3:44 mark, but by then the Celtics had taken an 18-14 lead. Trinity led 20-19 as the half ended.
The Trojans launched a 10-3 scoring burst through the first three minutes of the third quarter, only to fall into another scoring drought. Hillsboro?s only point over the final five minutes of the quarter was a free throw by Grant Knoll.
Even so, the Trojans, trailing 32-30, were positioned for a win as the fourth quarter started?if they could find some offensive spark.
When Allen followed a two-pointer with a three-pointer a few seconds on either side of the 5:30 mark, victory was still within reach with Trinity leading, 37-35.
But Hillsboro?s next scoring lull was fatal. Down the stretch, the Trojans made only two free throws in nine attempts, and only two baskets in eight tries from the floor. That?s all Trinity needed to nail down a six-point victory.
?We were playing in a tough environment on somebody else?s home court, and (Trinity) battled really hard,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?But I really thought we battled hard, too.?
For the game, Hillsboro shot 34 percent from the field (14-41), but made only four of 17 free-throws.
?Offensively, we just didn?t shoot the ball well,? Knoll said. ?We had looks in the middle of paint by multiple guys that should have gone in.