The Hillsboro High School boys’ basketball team is off to a rocky start. After defeating Moundridge Dec. 4, the Trojans lost to Inman on Thursday, 47-44, and Lyons on Friday, 41-35, in the Moundridge preseason tournament.
Hillsboro shot less than 30 percent from the field in both games and shot at 20 percent or less from beyond the 3-point arc.
Inman employed a 2-3 zone defense where they overplayed on Shaq Thiessen and Brett Weinbrenner whenever either player had the ball or was on the strong side of the floor. The Teutons allowed the other two players on the 3-point line to have wide-open threes. Most often, those players were Harry Faber or Evan Ollenburger who both started. Faber missed all four of his 3-point attempts; Ollenburger only shot one three.
The Trojans missed Christian Ratzlaff and Tyler Proffitt, who were both out with injuries. Ratzlaff was done for the year before the season started with a knee injury. If he had been playing, he would have feasted on Inman’s propensity for giving up open threes, or Weinbrenner and Thiessen would have been freed up for more opportunities.
“We can’t worry about that,” head coach Darrell Knoll said of Ratzlaff’s injury. “We have to play with who we have.”
Proffitt was practicing Monday and should be back soon from an ankle injury sustained during football season.
Despite the Trojans’ shooting woes, Hillsboro was only down 27-21 to Inman at halftime. Thiessen and Weinbrenner had 9 and 8 points respectively. More than anything, the Trojans were getting crushed on the boards by Alex Ropp, who already had 9 rebounds, 5 offensive.
Ollenburger led the comeback attempt in the third quarter by driving to the lane and drawing fouls. He knocked down four free throws to start a 9-0 run for Hillsboro with the Trojans down, 36-26. The Trojans responded on defense. Jesse Brown pulled down two defensive rebounds. Micah Allen, Weinbrenner, and Thiessen recorded consecutive steals. Weinbrenner’s resulted in a Thiessen fast-break layup. Thiessen converted his own steal into an uncontested deuce. Thiessen then recorded a block at the end of the quarter.
Thiessen started the fourth with a 3-pointer to put the Trojans within 1, 36-35. Although Thiessen allowed his man, Justin Friessen to hit a 3-pointer and layup, to put Inman back up, 41-35, he started to turn it on offensively with 5 minutes, 36 seconds left to play in the game. Along with a Weinbrenner free throw, Thiessen hit two midrange jumpers near the free-throw line. He crossed over one defender and then pulled up for the shot in both instances. Weinbrenner added a steal and layup. Then Thiessen converted another jumper off a Brown screen, rolling to the left elbow to put the Trojans up 1, 44-43, for their first lead since the first quarter.
Friessen answered on the other end with a layup to put Inman back on top. Weinbrenner and Ollenburger forced a turnover, the Inman player dribbling out-of-bounds with a well-executed half court trap, just over the time line. With 26.5 seconds left, the play went to Weinbrenner who attempted a 3-pointer off a quick screen, but missed the NBA-range shot. Ropp hit two free throws to put Inman up three. The Teutons fouled Weinbrenner on the subsequent possession before Hillsboro could set up any offense. With 3.8 seconds left, Thiessen and Weinbrenner were covered on both ends of the court and the inbounds pass went to Harry Faber who could not hit the long, contested 3-point attempt.
Thiessen had 22 points in the game and tied for the team lead in rebounds with 5 with Brown. He shot 50 percent from the field. Weinbrenner had 11 points and 4 assists. Only two other Trojans, Josh Wiebe and Ollenburger, converted a field goal.
Weinbrenner and Thiessen were much colder against Lyons on Friday with 11 and 10 points apiece. Weinbrenner was 3-for-16 from the floor and Thiessen went 5-for-17. Lyons employed three starkly different defenses. They played a significant amount of man-to-man, but interchanged looks by possession with 2-3 and 3-2 zones.
Again, despite cold shooting, the Trojans were in the game in the third quarter. Wiebe hit a layup after a no-look bounce pass from Thiessen to make the score 25-24 with 5:50 left in the third quarter. Weinbrenner knocked down a three to tie the score at 27 with 4:35 left. Even though Faber contributed a possession where he snared two offensive rebounds before eventually scoring the put back, part of his 9-point outing, Lyons converted four free throws in consecutive trips to the line and Grady Kirkhard hit a layup, part of his game high 15 points, and took a 33-29 lead with 1:27 to play in the third.
Lyons scored on three consecutive layups to start the fourth quarter. Josh Davidson stopped the scoring streak with layup off a Thiessen assist. Davidson was the top rebounder for Hillsboro off the bench with 7 boards. Faber hit a free throw but Hillsboro was down 39-33 with 2:32 left in the game. The teams traded empty possessions until Thiessen hit a layup after a steal with 14.5 seconds left in the game. Faber fouled Luis Rascon who knocked down both free throws to ice the game. The Trojans only scored 5 points in the final quarter.