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Trojans punch 3rd straight ticket to state

Hillsboro fights off surging Teutons, 42-35

Staff writer

Considering the way the Hillsboro High School boys’ basketball season has gone, some might be wondering whether coach Darrel Knoll doesn’t have his highest scoring team in 33 years.

Few teams this season have stayed out of the Trojans’ wake of destruction. Hillsboro is averaging 63 points per game while holding opponents to 32 defensively. 

Fact of the matter is, it’s not Knoll’s highest scoring team. 

That honor belongs to Knoll’s first state championship team 31 years ago, led by 3A player of the year Eric Jones and Craig Duerksen. With a solid supporting cast, that team averaged nearly 75. 

What Knoll does have is one of his best defensive teams, which has had a key role in creating the offense. 

Offense was pretty hard to come by Saturday night in the title game of the Remington sub-state against the Inman Teutons, whom the Trojans already had vanquished, 65-37, in the second game of the season.

The aggressive Teutons gave Hillsboro all it wanted, but the Trojans knocked out a 42-35 victory in a game that might have felt more like a one-possession victory. 

Hillsboro’s hopes of defending its Class 2A state title remain alive with the Trojans punching their third straight ticket to the state tournament at Kansas State University’s Bramlage Coliseum. 

The 22-1, second-seeded Trojans will face seventh-seed Wichita Independent in the first round at 2 p.m. Thursday. 

Knoll and the Trojans knew the Teutons would hit them with everything they had in the rematch Saturday. 

That included getting one of Hillsboro’s Big Three — Matt Potucek — into early foul trouble, keeping him from ever getting on track, along with slowing down the Ratzlaff cousins, Brekyn and Grayson. 

Brekyn still scored a team-high 12 points while dishing out a quartet of assists and committing four thefts, but Inman made the Trojans work for everything they got. 

Potucek’s impact came in rebounding, grabbing a game-high seven to go along with six points, leading Hillsboro to a narrow 28-26 edge on the backboards. 

The Teutons were hot on Hillsboro’s heels after the first quarter, down just 11-10 despite the Trojans shooting 48% in the first half. 

Frank Wichert gave the Trojans a boost, tossing in 11 points and coming up big during Hillsboro’s 14-4 second quarter, which opened a 25-14 lead by halftime. 

It felt as if the Teutons were in Hillsboro’s rear view mirror with Inman shooting 26% the first half, 35% the evening. 

But Inman’s feisty zone defense forced nine Trojan turnovers, and Hillsboro’s rugged 5-for-9 from the free throw line the second half added up to a chilly 46% free-throw shooting overall. 

The Teutons won the second half, 21-17, with Jordan Heckel scoring a game-high 13 points. 

Hillsboro advanced to Saturday’s title game by whipping the Sedgwick Cardinals, 60-26, in a game that better might have been on a football field.

Last modified March 10, 2022

 

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