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The Spartans shoot just 26 percent from the field in conference loss to the Kingsmen.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Hillsboro's Collin Rickis goes up for a lay-in during the Spartans' game with Putnam Monday night, Jan. 31, at Hillsboro High School.When it's not your night, it's not your night. And it definitely wasn't Hillsboro's night in a 47-43 loss to Putnam Monday night, Jan. 31, at Hillsboro High School.

The Spartans (3-12, 3-4) shot just 26% from the field against the Kingsmen, including 5-for-25 from behind the arc. But despite their shooting woes, the home Spartans possessed the ball down three with 15 seconds remaining, only to have one last three-point attempt miss the mark, and a very winnable game slip through their fingers.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Hillsboro's Jorge Diaz dribbles the baseline during the Spartans' game with Putnam Monday night, Jan. 31, at Hillsboro High School."We were just off," Hillsboro head coach Mark Ganter said. "These last four games, the offense has been stagnant. We're trying to get the ball moving and in the right kids' hands, but we're stagnant, and kids are trying too hard to do too much."

The first half was all about the Kingsmen (3-7, 2-4), who used their smaller lineup to force Hillsboro turnovers and get to the rim for easy buckets. The three-guard combination of junior Braeden Latta and sophomores Chase McDonald and Lennon Greenleaf combined for 27 of Putnam's 37 first-half points, many of which came from in the paint, where the Kingsmen outscored the Spartans 22-8.

Yet, despite its shooting woes and defensive breakdowns, Hillsboro trailed just 37-26 at the half thanks in large part to junior post Jorge Diaz, who scored 11 first-half points on 4-of-6 shooting.

But while the Spartans were successful inside due to an overall size advantage, Ganter was at a loss for words as to why they strayed from getting the ball to the post.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Hillsboro's Logan Jackson scans the Putnam defense during the Spartans' game against the Kingsmen Monday night, Jan. 31, at Hillsboro High School."We had a good thing going down low to Jorge, and we quit going to it," the coach said. "We had two big guys and just couldn't figure out how to get it into the box. We were successful and got away from it, and I couldn't understand why."

Things didn't get much better offensively for the Sparts in the second half, but defensively, they clamped down on the smaller Kingsmen, holding the visitors to just 10 second-half points. But with shots continuing to miss their mark, they couldn't get over the hump despite pulling to within two late in the fourth quarter and three with 15 seconds left.

After Konnor Bickford missed one of two free throws, giving Hillsboro a chance to tie, point guard Leron Richards dribbled the length of the floor and quickly found Collin Rickis for what would've been a game-tying three. But the senior's shot, while on line, found the back iron, stifling the Spartans' last-gasp effort.

Ganter said the team was frustrated with the defeat and at times tends to look outward for reasons for their struggles. But the coach said they need to get beyond that way of thinking to progress, and ultimately to again start winning games.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Hillsboro's Leron Richards dribbles around a Putnam defender during the Spartans' game against the Kingsmen Monday night, Jan. 31, at Hillsboro High School."We're not playing that well and haven't played well since the LaSalle game, where we moved the ball and ran," the coach said. "Usually when teams press us and make us play faster, we play better. But when Putnam pressured us tonight, we didn't go, and it led us to a lot of problems.

"I told the kids that everything we do from this point forward has to have intensity, or it's going to be like this the next seven games."

Hillsboro scorers included: Diaz 14, Logan Jackson 11, Richards 7, Andrew Hancock 6, Rickis 5.

Putnam scoreres included: Greenleaf 14, Braeden Latta 11, McDonald 9, Bickford 5, Tyler Adams 4, Alex Canizares 4.


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