ST. JOSEPH · Chillicothe High School's basketball Hornets on Saturday won for the third time in their last five outings, claiming third place in the Bishop LeBlond Holiday Tournament by shading Kansas City: University Academy 61-56 in overtime.
Coming on very strong from mid-third quarter on after fellow junior Tyler Clampitt had carried the club until then, forward Ryan Smith knocked down two pressure-packed free throws with between 12 and 13 seconds remaining in regulation time to tie the contest at 51 all, then completed a three-point play off freshman Nate McKiddy's penetrating assist not quite midway through the overtime half-period to give the Hornets (4-7) a lead they'd keep secure with good defense. Chillicothe held University Academy without a field goal for about the last 31/2 minutes of overtime until a meaningless outback just ahead of the buzzer changed the final margin of CHS victory from seven to five points.
"I was proud of how we persevered through some adversity," Hornets head coach Tim Cool said in his broadcast interview after the game. "(University Academy) battled back from down (nine early in the fourth period) and actually took the lead there and we handled ourselves really well with a lot of poise and composure, played through some stuff we can't control, …and came out on the winning side."
The triumph secured not only the trophy, but positive momentum for the Hornets, who are scheduled to start Midland Empire Conference competition at home Thursday night against a Bishop LeBlond team to which they lost by nine on a neutral floor in the season's first week.
"Hopefully, we'll be ready. We'll need to be," Cool commented. "It's the conference opener, an important game for us, and it will be a tough one."