Four double-digits scorers, strong rebounding, free-throw shooting allow CHS to prosper Tuesday despite losing top scorer Snyder to injury
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
SMITHVILLE, Mo. — When a basketball team, while trailing early in the second period, loses to injury the player who has led it in scoring average each of the two previous season and is leading it again – by a wide margin – in the current campaign, it doesn’t bode well for that team’s success in that game.
Forgive the Chillicothe (Mo.) High School Hornets if today they’re saying, “Huh?”
Senior Cade Snyder, the Hornets’ scoring leader or co-leader in 15 of the first 18 games of the 2016-17 season, was forced to the sidelines for the rest of the evening after seemingly hurting his left kneecap with 6:30 left in the first half of Tuesday’s CHS game at Smithville.
Although the Hornets still trailed 18-17 after Snyder scored on a coast-to-coast driving layup – he was hurt either as he landed or his knee hit the wall behind the basket, it appeared, they didn’t blink.
Instead, they stuck close for the next eight minutes, then fried the Warriors 38-20 over the game’s last 14 minutes to post a 69-51 Midland Empire Conference road win. Four Chillicothe players scored in double figures and a fifth had nine.
The triumph, CHS’ second in a row and fourth in its last five outings, improves the Hornets’ record to 11-8 overall and 2-1 in the conference. Unofficially, Smithville tumbled to 1-16 on the year and 0-2 in the MEC.
Chillicothe’s boys will be on the road again Friday at St. Joseph: Benton. That action, which will be supplemented by BHS’ winter Homecoming festivities and a Coaches Against Cancer fundraiser, will begin earlier than normal – 4:30 p.m. for the freshman boys’ tipoff. A Homecoming coronation ceremony will take place prior to the varsity game, so it likely still will start in the vicinity of the normal 7:45-8 p.m. hour or later.
Due to the extra events and the likelihood of a very large turnout, those attending are encouraged to arrive earlier than normal.
Tuesday’s CHS victory at Smithville saw the visitors come out smoking, but find SHS’ boys willing to return the heat – at least for a while.
The Hornets hit their first three shots from the floor in the opening 90 seconds, but the Warriors knocked their first two down and stayed close before finally moving in front early in the second period.
Having led 10-4 after treys by Westley Brandsgaard and Zach Trout, the Hornets were outscored 14-5 over the next five minutes. When Smithville began the second frame with triples from Jaxson Tanner and JD Benbow in the first 50 seconds, it jumped ahead 18-15.
After Chillicothe failed to score and the Warriors did the same, Snyder was passed the ball deep in the backcourt after a teammate’s rebound. He aggressively pushed the ball upcourt quickly on the dribble as Smithville players filtered back to their defensive end distractedly.
By the time the Warriors knew what was happening, the CHS standout was slashing down the lane to the rim for a layup their late efforts could not prevent.
However, Snyder crumpled to the hardwoods just beyond the baseline and reached down to clutch his left knee. After lying there and receiving medical attention for perhaps three or four minutes, he was helped to his feet and walked to the CHS bench, with some support on either side.
At halftime, Snyder’s mother told the C-T she’d been told it was thought the left kneecap might have dislocated. CHS coach Tim Cool stated the same initial information in a post-game broadcast interview, saying there was some swelling around the joint and that a firmer diagnosis would have to be made later.
Down one as their biggest offensive weapon departed, the Hornets rose to the occasion.
A minute later, after fellow freshman C.J. Pfaff secured one of CHS’ eventual 10 offensive rebounds, Brandsgaard restored Chillicothe to the lead, 19-18, with a scoring drive from the right wing to the baseline. The second-chance deuce generated the first two of eight second-chance points the Hornets would net on the night.
A half-minute later, junior forward Adler Marshall, who had his second-straight outstanding game off the bench, hit a turnaround shot in the paint from eight feet. Chillicothe then trumped SHS deuces with two more 3-balls – first by Trout, then by Jack Willard – to create a 27-22 margin.
As the first half entered its final minute, Marshall pulled up and hit from 12 feet in the lane for a 7-points gap, but Smithville was able to get a quick trifecta and then an end-to-end rush and layup by Logan Brown with three ticks still on the first-half clock. That left the Hornets in front by only two, 29-27, at intermission.
When the home team got four points from junior JD Benbow in the first two minutes of the second half, it had reclaimed the lead at 31-29.
Potentially on the ropes, the Hornets reacted like Muhammad Ali against George Foreman in the eighth round in Zaire in 1974.
They spun off those figurative ropes with a 14-2 flurry over a span of 4:10, initiating what would become the much-longer stretch of win-clinching dominance.
Less than a half-minute after dropping behind for only the second time in the game, CHS jumped right back in front as Trout nailed his third trey in as many tries in the contest.
In quick succession, fellow senior Ben Jones turned a three-points play with a stickback and free throw, Trout scored a left-side layup after being fed by Jones on a back-door cut from the wing.
That 6-0 mini-run was halted by a Smithville transition layup, but the Hornets simply did it again.
Brandsgaard was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound and made both free throw – part of an 8-for-8 night at the stripe for the CHS ninth grader.
Chillicothe then sprung a quick “jump” defense (half-court trap) on the Warriors for a possession and prompted a turnover that became an easy layup for Willard. Jones followed with a jump hook from the left edge of the lane, again following a CHS offensive snare, and the Hornets had seized a 10-points lead, 43-33, with 1:45 left in the third period.
After Brandsgaard drove inside from the left elbow of the lane to make it 45-36 with three seconds to go in that third stanza, Chillicothe took full control with devastating free-throw shooting in the first three minutes of the last one.
Jones, who ended the game perfect on four tries, netted a pair, then completed his second three-points play a minute later. Willard was fouled while making a driving shot after an SHS turnover and also finished off a three-points play. At the 5:17 mark, Marshall collected the carom of his own short-range miss and got the second shot to drop, expanding the Hornets’ lead to 55-38.
In response to a Smithville trey, Marshall converted yet another CHS “basket-and-1” before, with CHS entering the “bonus” situation on free throws, Brandsgaard drained a pair of foul shots and Jones got a lay-in off a Marshall setup. With 3:50 to play, only 10-1/2 minutes after trailing by one, the Hornets owned a 21-points advantage, 62-41.
To its credit, the relatively-young Smithville squad worked to make things interesting, despite the limited remaining time.
A pair of treys and then a couple of deuces in a span of only 59 seconds had Chillicothe’s seemingly-comfortable cushion down to 13 with CHS at the stripe, now in the “double-bonus.”
Both attempts missed, but potential catastrophe – Smithville could have cut the deficit to 10 with still over 1-1/2 minutes left, had it gained control of the ball – was averted when Jones leaped high to snare the carom of the second miss. After running off 20 valuable seconds, Brandsgaard was fouled and buried both attempts to end SHS hopes of a miracle rally.
Statistically, Chillicothe had a bushelful of significant, positive numbers, particularly in light of the injury to Snyder. Without their primary offensive weapon, the Hornets spread the wealth around.
Trout finished with a game- and varsity-career-high 16 points, one more than Brandsgaard. Jones had a huge second half and finished with 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds, while Willard provided 11. Marshall barely missed being a fifth Hornet in twin figures, tallying nine, and Snyder had six in his 9-1/2 minutes.
Not only was there that exceptional scoring balance for CHS, but it also had four players grab at least five rebounds as part of a team effort that produced a 31-15 advantage on the backboards.
Also worthy of headline recognition was Chillicothe’s free-throw shooting – a season-long weakness. The Hornets made nine of their first 10 attempts in the fourth quarter, the key to their more-than-doubling the 9-points lead owned going into it. Even with some later misses, CHS still managed to end the night 17 of 25 (68 percent), compared to their season rate of only 55 percent going into the game.