Lady Hornets (3-0) rout Savannah 61-29 after CHS boys fall to Kansas City: Staley by 20 in Savannah tourney Thursday; Hornets to play Platte County for third place at 1 p.m. Saturday
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
SAVANNAH, Mo. — With a chance – albeit an outside one – to send both of its teams to the championship games of the 88th-annual Savannah Invitational Tournament Thursday night, Chillicothe High School had to settle for the expected split.
Starting crisply a third-straight time, the top-seeded Lady Hornets (3-0) ran off the first 14 points of their second and last “pool-play” game of the tourney on their way to a 61-29 waltz past host Savannah.
That triumph, which advances CHS to Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. girls’ title game against Kansas City: Staley. followed a decisive, but less lopsided 54-34 defeat for the Hornets at the hands of Staley’s boys.
Staley’s Lady Falcons moved to the championship game from their pool after dispatching Maryville 50-24 Thursday.
“They’re a pretty good ballclub,” CHS girls’ head coach Darren Smith assesses.
“They guard you hard. Play (man-to-man defense). (Offensively), They really push the tempo. … Their point guard sees the floor really well. They’ve got a couple girls who are shooters and they’ve got a couple girls inside that bang and are athletic and go up and get (the ball on missed shots).”
Chillicothe’s boys (1-1) will settle for a crack at third place Saturday at 1 p.m. against Platte County. PCHS’ Pirates lost to top-seeded Maryville 64-53 Thursday.
The Chillicothe girls’ onslaught began quickly with two baskets in the first 22 seconds. Whitney Clampitt was fouled while scoring on a putback 16 seconds in and, after Katelyn Parkey rebounded the missed charity try, she slipped the ball outside to an open Hannah Jones for the first of her “triples.”
A Clampitt free throw and a lefthanded shot off the window on a drive from the left wing by Han. Jones bumped the lead to 8-0 after 66 ticks. Maggie Leatherman joined the fun with a stickback, Han. Jones netted one of two foul shots, and Karson Keithley drove and scored on a fast break while being bumped. She completed the three-points play and CHS had its 14-0 cushion in the first 2:55.
“They’re coming in (at the start of games) focused now,” understates Smith. “I’m not having to work too hard to do that.
“Our defensive intensity’s been really good, especially at the start of a game, at the start of a second half. All I have to do is say something and they really pick it up. Their communication’s been good.”
The coach credits the defensive efficiency to better habits, in terms of fundamental defense.
“We’re not reaching as much. We’re moving our feet,” Smith explains.
Again employing all 16 players they had in uniform, Chillicothe’s girls were warriors on the backboards against Savannah, unofficially securing 39 total caroms. Four Lady Hornets, led by senior reserve post player Emma Leamer’s seven, ripped down at least five boards. That includes sophomore backup center Kennedie Kieffer, who grabbed five in the first half.
Ten Lady Hornets scored and 11 had at least one rebound.
“They’re all working hard in practice. You want to reward them every chance you get,” Smith said of the liberal use of players in the tourney’s first two games for his team. He’d used 11 by halftime Thursday. “We’re giving them a few minutes here and there and it’s helping them hopefully get ready, in case we need them later on in the season.”
Clampitt netted a CHS-high 14 points and Han. Jones 11. Jones had two more treys, bringing her within five of Katie Stephens’ CHS career-record 106. She might tie or break it at home when the Lady Hornets host Trenton next Friday.
Had Smith not had so many players to use, Leamer scored and rebounded at a pace which likely would have produced a rare double-double by a reserve. In no more than 20 minutes of playing time, she produced six points, as well as the team-high seven boards. The senior was one of a half-dozen Lady Hornets to score at least five points.
Gabby Hummer’s seven tallies led Savannah.
The boys’ game saw the eventual victors roll out to an early lead with a double-digits string of consecutive tallies, too. However, the Hornets used an excellent defensive second quarter to actually trail by only six in the first half-minute of the final half.
Staley, which opened a 11-0 lead over the first 5:05 before Chillicothe got on the board on freshman backup wing guard Westley Brandsgaard’s short shot from the left block, built as much as a 16-points lead in the opening half, largely on the strength of five 3-pointers.
However, in a 3-minutes span at the close of the second period and opening of the third, the Hornets put together a double-digits scoring run of their own to make things interesting.
When five CHS free throws were followed by Cade Snyder’s left-corner trey 17 seconds ahead of intermission, Chillicothe sliced the favored Falcons’ margin to 23-15 at the half, having allowed the KC team only two baskets (both treys) in the second period.
Snyder’s sensational, twisting reverse shot underneath after an abortive alley-oop try to begin the second half narrowed the margin to six. Then the suburban Kansas Citians cranked things back up on offense.
Consecutive treys ignited a 14-0 surge which took the lead out to 20 points three minutes before the end of the third quarter and Chillicothe would not make a response this time.
Statistically, Staley, coached by former St. Joseph: Lafayette coach Chris Neff, was paced the red-hot shooting of point guard Nick Rumbo. The 5’11” junior fired in five 3s in seven attempts and scored a game-high 21 points.
Although no other Falcon reached twin figures in scoring, as a team, Staley unofficially was 11 of 20 from beyond the arc, compared to CHS’ one of 10. The Hornets made 12 of 19 tries from 2-point range.
Snyder again paced the Chillicothe scoring, getting 18 points. While he was seven of 12 from the floor, the rest of the team was only six of 17.