It just came down to which team made more shots.
That particular team in the boys’ game of Hillsboro vs. Republic County on Tuesday in Hillsboro was Republic County.
Republic County held a one-point lead, 34-33 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Trevor Allen for Republic County hit a midrange jumper over Shaq Thiessen. Trenton Kuhlman knocked down a 3-point over Micah Allen to give the Buffaloes a 39-36 lead.
Allen then hit a layup and the subsequent free throw after being fouled by Thiessen to give Republic County a six-point lead with 35.3 seconds remaining. Kuhlman iced the game by hitting two free throws with 1.1 seconds left to give the Buffaloes the final margin, 46-42.
Hillsboro made a valiant effort in the quarter. Tyler Proffitt hit a layup after an assist from Thiessen out of the high post to begin the period. Micah Allen hit a free throw after an offensive rebound in a 1-and-1 situation.
Josh Wiebe hit a jumper with his back to the basket, kissing the shot off the glass after he had a steal on the other end. Wiebe had another steal and forced a tie-up to bring Hillsboro within three points, 39-36. Brett Weinbrenner then hit a jumper from the foul line to reduce the margin to three points. With Hillsboro down four, Weinbrenner made a long 2-pointer, his left foot just barely over the 3-point line, with 3.2 seconds left.
“They made shots at the end, made free throws. We didn’t,” Head coach Darrel Knoll said. “That was a game I really think we should have won.”
As far as the Trojans biggest missed opportunity as a team, Knoll harkened back to the end of the first half. Hillsboro was clicking on offense and defense to put together a 11-3 run to start the second quarter. Weinbrenner had six points in that span, part of his 16-point effort on the night. Thiessen had two blocks, a corner 3-pointer, and a layup.
Then the Trojans gave up a traditional 3-point play, two free throws, and a buzzer-beating floater to allow Republic County to close the gap to 19-18 at the end of the half.
“It certainly gave them confidence that they were back in the game,” Knolls said.
As for an individual missed opportunity, Weinbrenner started the game smoking hot with 11 points in the first half. Weinbrenner was held scoreless in the third quarter, taking only one shot.
“I’ve talked to Brett the last several games about being more aggressive. I have to watch the tape to see why we didn’t get him more involved,” Knoll said. “As a team we need to work hard to get him the ball, especially against a zone.”
There were many positives for Hillsboro in the game. After that lull at the end of the second quarter, the Trojans made an adjustment to Republic County’s 2-3 zone defense, primarily using Josh Wiebe to facilitate out of the high post. When Wiebe went to the bench, Thiessen or Weinbrenner also caught the ball near the free-throw line to initiate the offense. Wiebe contributed 9 points, three rebounds, and four steals. Thiessen had 11 points and six boards.
The Trojans also got contributions from role players. Micah Allen had his best game of the season posting a line of three points, four rebounds — three of the offensive variety, and two blocks.
“I look for him to get better and better,” Knoll said.
Reserve guard Jesse Brown had two steals for the Trojans, part of a strong defensive effort.
“He’s learned his role,” Knoll said of Brown.
With these bright spots, Knoll was disappointed that the Trojans did not pull out the victory. He said it is time the Trojans started winning these types of games.