By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
The Chillicothe High School basketball Hornets delivered their third win in four games Thursday night and their fifth win of the 2012-13 season in the stifling, heads-up form of a 42-31 victory over visiting St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond in CHS' Midland Empire Conference opener. It is the first time in 10 years that Chillicothe's boys have won their MEC debut.
"It's a great way to start it," said Cool of inaugurating conference play with a sharp performance. "LeBlond is tough."
Atop of the list of things Chillicothe's boys are doing with alacrity at present is defending. For the second time in three games, they held their opponent below 20 points in the first half. This time, in fact, they used superb positioning and tenacity to throttle the Golden Eagles (5-5) on a mere 10 points.
"We really guarded them well tonight. Our defensive goal was to keep them under 50," Cool said with a chuckle in his post-game broadcast interview, adding he might need to revise that downward to keep his hard-working club challenged.
The Hornets (5-7) actually had defended Bishop LeBlond reasonably well a month before when they met in the Savannah Invitational Tournament. On that occasion, the Golden Eagles overpowered them by 18 on the backboards to get extra scoring chances and converted often enough to prevail 49-40.
This time, a high percentage of BLHS misses wound up in the Hornets' hands, making their initial defense pay off.
"We turned the tables on them a little bit," Cool acknowledged. "We had a lot of guys who were fighting hard and rebounding the ball well."
The Hornets will have a chance to continue building their midseason momentum Saturday when they join the CHS girls in a road quadruple-header at Kirksville. The first of a pair of junior-varsity games will tip off at 1 p.m. with the girls' varsity contest likely to start at around 3:30 and the boys' action near 5 o'clock.
For Chillicothe's girls (6-3), it will their second contest in about 20 hours, following tonight's MEC opener at St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond.