Start defense of Savannah Invitational Tournament title Monday (Nov. 27) with balanced-scoring, 48-18 stroll past St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond

SAVANNAH, Mo. — A still-young opponent trying to regain its footing amid a shortfall of players the past couple of years proved to be a fortuitous foe for the Chillicothe High School basketball Lady Hornets as they commenced defense of their title in the Savannah invitational Tournament today (Monday, Nov. 27, 2017).
The Lady Hornets, minus most of their top 10 players of a year ago and their starting five of the past several seasons, got the first victory of their new “era” by strolling past St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond 48-18 in the opening game of the 89th-annual tournament, one of Missouri’s oldest.
Although not particularly efficient offensively itself, CHS nevertheless netted the contest’s first eight points and never led by less than that amount after answering the Lady Golden Eagles’ first points with a Maddi Graham 3-pointer from the right corner with just over a minute remaining in the opening stanza.
Chillicothe (1-1) led 20-7 at halftime and 33-13 after three quarters before initiating use of accelerated timekeeping procedures in the last minute or two when the last two of Kennedie Kieffer’s game-high 10 points advanced their lead to an even 30 points.
CHS’ Lady Hornets will try to qualify for the tourney’s Saturday afternoon championship game when it faces host Savannah in an 8:30 p.m. tilt Thursday.
Chillicothe’s boys (1-0) debut in the tournament tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 28) at 4 p.m. against St. Joseph: Benton. As with the girls’ contest Monday, it will be broadcast live on radio and videostreamed live online.
Statistically, Chillicothe exhibited excellent scoring balance as head coach Darren Smith liberally used nine players. With starting post forward Liberty Cox hobbled a bit by an ankle injury sustained in last week’s season opener and junior forward Maggie Pfaff still ailing and unavailable, Chillicothe had freshman Maya Snyder in uniform for varsity play for the first time. She played about a half-minute at the end of the first quarter for her debut.
While Kieffer reached double digits in scoring with the game’s last bucket, right behind her were sophomore guard Jordan Hibner with nine points and senior guard Harlie Jones and sophomore wing guard Hunter Keithley with eight apiece. Having another strong showing off the bench was junior Laney Gaston with six tallies.
Unofficially, 6’ junior Kieffer meshed seven rebounds – also a team-high – and two assists with her points production. Hibner also dished off for two baskets and snared five boards, while backup guard Magy Thomas and Keithly unofficially led the club with three assists apiece. Keithley was credited with five rebounds, as well.
Pacing BLHS (0-2), which managed only one field goal in the first half, was sophomore Juliann Smith with seven points.