A nine-minute scoring drought in the first half was enough to enable the visiting Pratt Greenbacks to claim a 46-37 league win over Hills?boro in an otherwise evenly matched game Friday at Brown Gymna?sium.
After trailing 14-11 after one quarter, a traditional three-point play by Austin Cross gave the Trojans a 17-14 lead with 5:37 left in the second quarter. Hillsboro didn?t score the rest of the half, which ended with Pratt leading, 24-17.
?We had good control of the first quarter, then we had four or five consecutive possessions where we had maybe three or four turn?overs and a bad shot,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?They came down and capitalized on all those. Our poor offense led to their scores.?
Josh Funk hit a basket to start the third quarter, but the Trojans didn?t recover their scoring rhythm until Cross scored at the 4:31 mark. By then, the Green?backs had taken a 27-19 lead.
Hillsboro?s Preston Loe?wen and Micah Allen followed with baskets for a 6-0 Trojan spurt. A three-point basket by Jacob Kurz helped Pratt establish a 31-26 lead by the end of the quarter.
Braden Vogt scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to cut Pratt?s lead to 31-28, but an 8-0 run by the Greenbacks over a 2-minute stretch seemed to take the wind out of the Trojans. Pratt led 39-28 with 5:40 to play, and the two teams more or less traded points the rest of the way.
?Tonight was a game that could have been ours,? Knoll said. ?We battled all night, we were always within striking range. We have nothing to blame but our lack of execution offensively.?
Knoll said lack of effort wasn?t the issue.
?I thought we played really hard. For the most part defensively we did fairly well. They?ve got some tough matchups for us athletically and they made some big shots. But I thought at times we didn?t stay with our intensity and our focus. Offensive execution is the biggest reason we lost tonight.?
Allen led Hillsboro (9-6, 3-3) with 13 points and Cross added nine. Samuel Kohman scored 12 to lead Pratt (8-6, 6-0).
Nickerson?Hillsboro escaped with a 58-56 win at Nickerson Tuesday when Braden Stewart?s three-point shot caromed off the front of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
Nickerson was seeking payback for the Trojans? 22-point victory in the season opener. Stew?art, plus a 29-point outburst by teammate Austin O?Toole, nearly delivered it.
?That last shot, when it left his hand, looked like it was on line,? coach Darrel Knoll said. ?When it came up short, I thought thank goodness. In a game like this, you never know what?s going to happen. I thought both teams left everything out on the floor.?
Hillsboro got off to a slow start, trailing the Panthers 15-11 after one quarter and 28-20 at halftime, thanks in part to foul trouble that limited Micah Allen?s minutes and scoring output.
The Trojans seemed to be a half-step behind the Panthers on both ends of the court.
?I thought they just out-hustled us the first half, at least for a stretch when they got their eight-point lead,? Knoll said.
Hillsboro looked like a different team as the third quarter began. The Trojans outscored the Panthers 11-2 through the first four minutes to regain the lead at 31-30.
In the final 1:27 Allen hit back-to-back threes, and then two of three free throws when he was fouled on a three-point shot. That put Hillsboro on top 43-36 as the quarter ended.
When Allen picked up his fourth foul at the 7:14 mark of the final period, you could sense a wind shift in the gym. At the 3:44 mark, officials called a technical on O?Toole for continuing play after he was fouled.
O?Toole hit both of his free throws, but Trojan fans weren?t panicking with a 49-45 lead and Allen going to the line to shoot the two penalty free throws.
Uncharacteristically, Allen missed both freebies. When he fouled out at the 3:00 mark, Panther fans were on their feet, sensing a comeback victory.
O?Toole scored at the 1:45 mark, tying the game at 50. Elias Werth responded with a layup five seconds later, but missed the bonus free throw when he was fouled.
That put Hillsboro into a free-throw contest?against themselves, mostly?over the final 1:02. The Trojans made only six of 10 attempts.
?Some free throws and some layups would have made it a little easier for us.? Knoll said, but he liked the way his players stepped up with Allen on the bench.
?I was really happy that they maintained their composure and didn?t really turn it over,? Knoll said. ?They made good plays. We did what we needed to do, but we?ve got to put the ball in the basket.?
Despite multiple minutes on the bench because of foul trouble, Allen finished with 21 points to lead Hillsboro, who improved to 9-5. O?Toole finished with a game-high 29 points for Nickerson, who slipped to 2-12.
Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to play at Hoising?ton (1-5, 6-9) Tuesday, then will play host to Kingman (6-9, 3-3) Friday at Brown Gym?na?sium. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.