(Updated 1 a.m. Dec. 14) Lady Hornets and Hornets throtttle Macon's offenses in 19-, 44-points non-conference wins Tuesday. CHS girls now 6-0, boys 5-1.
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
With another blazing shooting performance by the boys and terrific defense by both the girls and boys, the sensational early success for the Chillicothe High School basketball teams continued tonight (Tuesday).
Underpinned by excellent ball movement, for a second game in as many nights, CHS’ Hornets (5-1) hit at least 60 percent of their total field-goal attempts and 70 percent of their 2-points shot attempts, a scintillating showing they paired with nearly-impenetrable defense as they dispatched winless Macon 59-24 in the CHS gym.
That completed a second varsity-twinbill home sweep by Chillicothe in five nights as the undefeated Lady Hornets once again cruised to victory, handing a previously-once-beaten foe a lashing for the second time in a row. Following a decisive thumping of Trenton at home last Friday, the CHS girls (6-0) smoked Macon 53-34 in a game much more one-sided than the final score indicates.
The two Chillicothe clubs next will take their combined 11-1 ledgers on the road next Monday to face Kirksville. Given the distance to be traveled, that doubleheader will tip off at 5 p.m. at the Kirksville Middle School gym.
“That’ll be a great challenge for us,” Cool says of taking on Kirksville, which was 5-2 prior to games Tuesday at Mexico and Friday at home against Fulton.
Kirksville’s girls are believed to be short on experience and had a 1-5 record with multiple blowout losses heading into their Tuesday game at Mexico.
Tuesday in Chillicothe, both games were, barring total and uncharacteristic collapses by the home team, safely tucked away by halftime.
Although neither ever trailed, the Hornets were the more-dominant red-and-black crew on this night.
They reeled off 12 unanswered markers in the first 2:45, beginning with center Walker Graves’ open trey from atop the key on the opening possession, ending with consecutive Jack Willard steals and layups, and having two Cade Snyder scores sandwiched in between.
After leading 17-3 after one period, the CHS boys extended their margin to 25-5 approaching the middle of the second stanza and led 29-10 at the mid-game stoppage, having already utilized 10 players.
Even with the big lead, Cool says his players keep their focus well.
“We’re just always trying to get better,” he responded to a query in a post-game broadcast interview. “We want to keep our habits good. Good habits, good work ethic, no matter who we’re playing.”
The Hornets not only maintained their high level of play of the first half on this night, but raised it.
At one end of the court, they totally blanked winless Macon (0-7) in the third period. At the other, they scored nine baskets – eight set up by a teammate’s pass, including a trifecta of 3-pointers in a 63-seconds span at mid-quarter. The only CHS field goal of the frame not assisted upon was ever-improving senior reserve forward Ben Jones’ putback of Westley Brandsgaard’s missed trey.
“I thought our guys made some very good adjustments defensively,” Cool says of the third-quarter shutdown, “because Macon’s pretty good about slashing and driving. They like to put the ball on the floor and try to get going ‘downhill’ and I thought we did a better job of maintaining defensive slides and staying in front of them better.”
Even with the deepest members of the bench on the Hornets’ 15-players roster playing the entire final frame under accelerated-timekeeping rules, Chillicothe still had the best of the play.
The quintet of Kyle Hansen, Isaiah Boon, Jacob Anderson, Hayden Montgomery, and Kade Plattner outscored Macon 8-2 before the Tigers got the game’s last points on a trey with 26 seconds left.
Still using a mix of starters and early reserves in the early part of the last period, Macon finally got its first basket and points of the second half after an 11-minutes, 6-seconds wait. That was the only scoring it did after halftime until the final triple.
Statistically, Chillicothe’s boys again had exceptional balance in all phases of play.
Offensively, by draining 70 percent of its 2-points attempts from the field and nearly 50 percent of its 17 tries outside the arc, the Hornets shot exactly 60 percent overall. That was far, far better than its 38 percent work at the free-throw stripe, where their season-long ineffectiveness continued.
The high rate of shooting success was thanks to quick, effective, alert, and unselfish ball movement which, over and over again, resulted in either a point-blank shot or wide-open perimeter attempt.
Of the 24 total CHS baskets, assists were credited on 17, led again by senior guard Zach Trout, who had six “dimes.”
Scoring-wise, Snyder’s flurry of three triples in the third quarter led to him finishing with 16 points, just a smidgen under the senior’s season average. He also paced the rebounding with five.
Graves joined Snyder in double-figures scoring, tallying 10. Neither of them played in the last segment.
Following the previous night’s example of four Hornets scoring their first-ever varsity points for CHS, junior Jacob Anderson scored four points in the last stanza to do the same.
Not only did eight Hornets score in the romp, but nine had assists and 12 had rebounds.
Chillicothe also was nearly-flawless in its ballhandling, committing only three turnovers – all in the second half.
The opening game saw the Lady Hornets adjust to Macon’s aggressive style in the final few minutes of the first quarter and then run off and hide.
Neither side scored for more than two minutes – Chillicothe’s slowest start by far thus far this young season. Lady Hornets senior forward Katelyn Parkey broke the ice with a “3” from atop the key off the first of Hannah Jones’ game-high five assists.
As the contest reached the final 90 seconds of the opening frame, Macon was within 8-7. Eight minutes later – the equivalent of one quarter, it would be down by 17 and on its way to as much as a 29-points deficit before CHS head coach Darren Smith called off his top troops.
“I’ve got to get my team ready to go,” he said of using his top rotation of seven players almost exclusively through three quarters. “I played my ‘normals’ a little longer tonight, trying to start getting us in ‘game shape’, and I thought we responded pretty well.”
The stretch in which the Lady Hornets first began to separate themselves began with Han. Jones’ second of three 3-pointers, a step-back shot from quarter-court on the right side with 1:08 showing on the first-quarter clock.
She then set up Parkey for a point-blank buzzer-beater for a 13-7 lead after one frame before Karson Keithley began the second-stanza scoring with a triple from left of the key. Whitney Clampitt’s steal and defenders-splitting layup made it 10 CHS points in succession in less than 2:20 and an 11-points margin for the hosts.
With 2:50 left in the opening half, Han. Jones buried her third long-ranger of the night to ignite an 8-0 spurt that ballooned the Chillicothe lead to 32-12. Maggie Leatherman arched in two free throws and backup guard Mikah Clark a 3-pointer off Harlie Jones’ pass to complete the surge.
That Han. Jones “3” was her 105th as a CHS Lady Hornet, leaving her one away from tying Katie Stephens’ CHS girls career record for treys. She attempted – and missed – only one more on this night, making it nearly certain the record-tying and record-breaking trifectas will come on the road, where the Lady Hornets will have at least their next seven game.
CHS’ 32-14 lead at halftime was largely the result of hot outside shooting. It knocked down seven of the 11 shots it fired from outside the arc in the first two quarters.
“We’ve got a team full of shooters and those girls like to shoot it and we look for each other really well to shoot it,” Smith concedes, “so when the inside game isn’t going, we look at the outside.”
The Lady Hornets reinforced their command of the game when the final half began.
An easy layup for Leatherman off a Han. Jones setup, a Han. Jones free throw, Keithley’s tough, 1-on-1 shot on a fast break, a Parkey trey, and Keithley’s ahead-of-the-pack layup – all in the first 2-1/2 minutes of the third quarter zipped the gap up to 28 points.
The margin inched up to 29 points on a Parkey free throw early in the fourth frame before a couple of MHS triples and even a 4-points play by Kristin Larrick helped deceptively shrink the final difference to just under 20 points.
Statistically, Han. Jones was CHS’ shining star this night, even though she didn’t quite cap it with a record shot. The senior led the team in scoring with 12 points and, unofficially, in rebounds with four (the same total reserve forwards Emma Leamer and Kennedie Kieffer had) and assists with five. She also had multiple steals as the Lady Hornets forced 21 turnovers.
Parkey also scored in double figures with 10. Macon was led by Larrick’s seven.
Like the boys subsequently, the only fly in the ointment for Chillicothe’s girls was their free-throw shooting. They hit only 10 of 22 tries.