Lady Hornets (12-1) lead virtually all the way against Kansas City: Notre Dame de Sion Wednesday, prevail 55-47 behind Parkey, Keithley; will meet hosts for crown Friday at 6:30 p.m.
KEARNEY, Mo. — With excellent rebounding and free-throw shooting – particularly in the second half on the latter – and steady, balanced offensive production, Chillicothe (Mo.) High School’s basketball Lady Hornets led nearly throughout as they avenged their loss to Kansas City: Notre Dame de Sion in last year’s “Bulldog Classic” tournament Wednesday night with a highly-pleasing and richly-deserved 55-47 triumph in this year’s championship semifinal in the tourney.
The victory, in which Chillicothe (12-1) – as Maryville’s boys did against CHS’ Hornets the night before – broke an early 2-2 tie and never was caught, boosts them into the event’s championship game against host Kearney at 6:30 p.m. today. The threat of freezing rain and icy road conditions Saturday prompted an alteration to the tourney’s original schedule. All original Saturday games, including both championship contests, were shifted to today with some of the lesser games moved to the nearly junior-high school gym.
Kearney’s Lady Bulldogs advanced to the title game by rallying from a double-digits first-half deficit, with good long-range shooting and tight interior defense, to overtake and defeat St. Joseph: Lafayette 42-35 prior to Chillicothe’s game.
The CHS girls’ appearance in the “Bulldog Classic” championship game will be their first since 1996, when they lost the title game to Kearney. No Lady Hornets team ever has won the Kearney tourney crown.
After the Lady Hornets began the game’s scoring and Notre Dame de Sion’s Lady Storm (3-5) tied it, arson Keithley’s driving deuce at the 5-minutes mark of the opening quarter pushed Chillicothe in front to stay.
It began a lightning-strike 9-0 spurt in less than 70 seconds, being followed within 30 seconds by K. Keithley’s fast-break layup and Hannah Jones’ 3-pointer from atop the key. Whitney Clampitt then bumped the margin to 11-2 with an easy finish on a 2-on-1 fast break with K. Keithley, who earned the assist.
The Lady Hornets nursed that 9-points advantage to the end of the first frame and maintained at least a 2-possessions lead until the last half-minute of the opening half when Notre Dame freshman Anaiya Uhde canned a right-corner “3” to make it 22-19.
Chillicothe ran the clock down to the last five seconds of the half before, in a play that looked a bit disjointed, Han. Jones flipped the ball to 6-footer Katelyn Parkey stepping out to the top of the key. The senior swiftly turned and triggered from there and found nothing but net with her answering trey. That gave the Lady Hornets an emotional lift, going to the locker room with a 25-19 lead.
Twice in the first four minutes of the third quarter, the Kansas City Catholic school team pared the margin to one possesion at 29-27 and 31-29, but each time Chillicothe sank two free throws – first Parkey, then K. Keithley on the next possession – to prevent the Lady Storm from ever having the ball with a chance to tie or lead.
When Notre Dame didn’t score on the possession after K. Keithley’s pair, Clampitt was fouled on the Kansas Citians’ defensive end of the court, putting CHS into the bonus free-throw situation less than five minutes into the last half. That would be a critical factor.
Clampitt walked to the other end of the court and calmly converted twice at the stripe for a 6-points lead, 31-25, and the CHS lead never was less than four again.
Notre Dame de Sion got it to that gap inside the last half-minute of the third quarter, but, as Chillicothe drained the clock, a driving K. Keithley was accidentally tripped with two seconds to go and hit the front end of the bonus – CHS’ 12th-consecutive made foul shot of the stanza – to make it 40-35.
Even when her second try snapped that skein, the Lady Hornets still had reaped five of the six possible points from their 1-and-1 opportunities and would being the last quarter with the ball and in the “double bonus” on any subsequent NDdS non-player-control fouls.
Chillicothe quickly upped the ante with a 7-1 spurt in the first few minutes of the last quarter.
After the Kansas City team misfired on the opening possession, K. Keithley alertly found Han. Jones all alone as a trailer in transition and fed her the ball. Catching it and squaring up in rhythm at the right of the key, CHS’ all-time leader in 3-points baskets added to her total to make it an 8-points lead not quite a half-minute in.
Following Notre Dame going one for two at the foul line, Chillicothe found Parkey ahead of the pack with a long pass, but, by the time she got to the ball, she was almost to the baseline and wide of the basket to the left. Spinning back away from the end line with a dribble as a single foe caught up to her, she found Clampitt out-racing the rest of the player to that end and, with a bounce pass, set her up for an uncontested layup to match the game’s largest lead to that moment, 45-36.
When Notre Dame failed to score, Clampitt drove past her defender into the paint, then, as another Lady Storm player moved to cut off her path to the basket, flipped the ball to Maggie Leatherman near the left baseline. With her defender having left to stop Clampitt, Leatherman pulled the trigger on a 15-foot shot which fell cleanly through the net to create the game’s first double-digits spread, 47-36, with 5:46 to go.
Taking a timeout after that CHS crowd-pleasing shot, the Kansas City team regained its equilibrium a bit.
Sarah Totta, who broke the Lady Hornets’ hearts with a buzzer-beating, game-winning trey in last year’s clash, scored twice in a row on drives, the second one coming with a foul which allowed her to complete a three-points play. In less than 45 seconds, the Lady Storm had almost halved the Chillicothe lead.
More than a minute passed before either side scored again, but when that happened, it was the Lady Hornets doing so.
With a throw-in at the baseline on the Notre Dame end, Chillicothe sent Clampitt breaking upcourt as Leatherman launced a “baseball-throw” pass deep down the floor. Clampitt caught up with it and, despite a defender contesting it, got a layuyp to go.
A couple of CHS miscues and a missed shot or two kept Chillicothe from scoring for nearly two minutes. During that lapse, NDdS hit a pair of free throws and a slicing, driving shot by Amaya Adams to be within four, 49-45, with 95 seconds remaining.
However, the Lady Hornets both kept their cool and their hot hand at the foul line.
With the Lady Storm called for their first foul of the fourth quarter with 1:20 to play – after being whistled for nine fouls in the third stanza, Parkey made one of two at the stripe.
When Notre Dame didn’t score, Hannah Jones rebounded and was fouled and hit the first of her two tries. Parkey snared the carom of the missed second shot and soon was fouled. She dropped in both tries with 57.5 ticks left on the clock, pushing Chillicothe’s lead back to eight, 53-35.
When the Lady Hornets again held defensively and got the ball back, Parkey was fouled one more time and again converted twice to ice the win.
Statistically, Parkey finished with a very strong all-around game after a bit of a slow start offensively.
She led four CHS double-digits scorers with 17 points, unofficially snared a game-high nine rebounds, and blocked at least three shots. She went 10 of 13 at the free-throw line.
K. Keithley also was a force in the game, tallying 12 points after having her team’s first six. She also unofficially led in assists with three and took a couple of spells defending the much-taller Adams, whose 18 points had led the Lady Storm in last year’s win over CHS. Adams also led her team this year with 11, but six of those came in the last 8:40.
Also scoring in double figures for Chillicothe were Han. Jones with 12 and Clampitt, the team’s season scoring leader, with 10, including perfect 4-of-4 work at the foul line.
Unofficially, the Lady Hornets were 19 of 24 at the charity stripe after halftime – a hugely-critical factor in their maintaining the lead – and scored almost half (26) of their points in the game there.
Another major component of the Chillicothe conquest was its reversal of fortunes on the glass from the previous year’s meeting.
Unofficially out-rebounded by eight a year ago, the Lady Hornets virtually owned the backboards this time, unofficially having a whopping 30-16 advantage. Beyond Parkey’s game-high total, Clampitt and Han. Jones also were workhorses on the “window” with seven snares apiece.
The Lady Hornets really dominated on the defensive boards, collecting 21 to only four offensive collections by the Lady Storm. At the other end, Chillicothe grabbed nine of its own misses, unofficially, while Notre Dame de Sion had only 12 defensive snares.