HILLSBORO — The Hesston Swather boys overcame a slow start to bury Republic County 54-34 Tuesday in the first round of the Hillsboro Trojan Classic at Tabor College.

Hesston, 8-3, takes on Holcomb at 4:30 p.m. Thursday (note date change) in the semifinals at Hillsboro High School. Republic County drops to 3-7.

“We didn’t start very well shooting the ball,” Hesston coach Greg Raleigh said. “We picked it up a little bit on defense. We ran 10 or 11 guys in and out of there, so it got a little hectic. I thought we had a little advantage inside, so we got the ball inside for some easy baskets.”

Hesston is bouncing back from a three-point loss to rival Halstead Thursday.

“We’ve been struggling to score,” Raleigh said. “If we’d start to hit some shots, we’d be alright. We’re so young playing three freshmen and three sophomores with one senior. We’ve had so many injuries. We were hoping to get some of them back, but it looks like we won’t.”

Ben Bollinger led a balanced scoring effort for Hesston with 11 points. Andrew Schmidt added nine off the bench.

Republic County was led by Ethan Nutsch with 13 points and Clint Callaway with 11. The two combined on six of 13 from 3-point range.

Hesston got caught trading twos for three for most of the first quarter. A Camden McDonald trey at the buzzer got the Swathers within one, 11-10.

Down 15-14 in the second quarter, Hesston took advantage of turnovers to make a 15-0 run to end the period. The Buffaloes had 17 turnovers in the first half.

Hesston added another point to the run to start the third quarter before Clint Callaway hit a 3-pointer for Republic County. Hesston led by as many as 18 in the period. The Buffaloes cut that to 16 at the end of the quarter, 43-27.

Hesston put things away with an 8-2 run in the fourth quarter.

Hesston faces a 5-4 Holcomb team that downed Eureka 55-26. Hesston fell to Holcomb 71-41 last year.

“We like playing Holcomb,” Raleigh said. “They’re big. They’re strong. They are playing seniors. We’re going to have to suck it up and hit some shots. We’ve developed a little rivalry with them.”

REPUBLIC COUNTY (3-7) — Callaway 4-12 0-0 11, Fischer 0-0 2-2 2, Dahl 1-2 0-0 2, Parde 1-3 0-0 2, Nutsche 5-10 0-0 13, Lapo 1-7 0-1 2, Hartner 1-1 0-0 2, Stindt 0-0 0-0 0, TOTALS 13-35 2-3 34.

HESSTON (8-3) — McDonald 2-5 0-0 5, J.Eilert 1-2 1-2 3, Toews 0-4 0-2 0, Richardson 2-6 3-4 8, Spencer 0-4 0-0 0, M.Arnold 2-4 0-1 4, Humphreys 3-7 0-0 6, N.Arnold 4-9 0-0 8, Schmidt 2-3 5-6 9, Bollinger 5-7 1-2 11, TOTALS 21-51 10-17 54.

Republic Co.;11;4;12;7;—34

Hesston;10;19;14;11;—54

Total fouls — RC 16, Hes. 11. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. 3-point shooting — RC 6-16 (Callaway 3-8, Parde 0-2, Nutsch 3-5, Lapo 0-1), Hes. 2-14 (McDonald 1-2, J.Eilert 0-1, Toews 0-3, Richardson 1-2, Spencer 0-2, M.Arnold 0-1, Humphreys 0-2, M.Arnold 0-1). Rebounds — RC 22 (Nutsch 3, Stindt 3), Hes. 35 (Humphreys 5, Bollinger 5). Assists — RC 5 (Lapo 2), Hes. 7 (McDonald 1, J.Eilert 1, Richardson 1, Spencer 1, M.Arnold 1, Humphreys 1, Schmidt 1). Turnovers — RC 22 (Parde 4, Nutsch 4, Lapo 4), Hes. 13 (Schmidt 3). Blocked shots — RC 2 (Parde 2), Hes. 0. Steals — RC 6 (Lapo 2, Hartner 2), Hes. 16 (Bollinger 4).