CHS Hornets outscore host Bulldogs 24-4 in last 11 minutes after trailing 13-11 at halftime. Unbeaten THS girls close on 9-1 spurt in last three minutes to survive, 46-40

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

TRENTON, Mo. — As often happens – perhaps more often than not – in games between rival teams, Thursday’s (Dehigh school basketball contests between Chillicothe’s and host Trenton’s girls’ and boys’ squads proved closer than pre-game analysis suggested they should be.
THS’ veteran, undefeated Lady Bulldogs needed to close the game on a 9-1 push in the last three minutes to subdue the greener Lady Hornets 46-40, while CHS’ Hornets, who also had a significant advantage in veteran personnel, found themselves down 13-11 after a first-half offensive snoozefest before awakening a a bit on offense midway through the third quarter to outscore Trenton 16-0 over a 7:40 stretch on the way to a 42-26 victory.
The non-conference split left Chillicothe’s boys with a 4-1 early record, the Lady Hornets at 2-3, Trenton’s girls at 6-0, and the Bulldogs at 3-3.
Chillicothe’s teams next play Monday night at Excelsior Springs in a 5 p.m. tripleheader. The CHS girls will join the boys for a road doubleheader at Macon Tuesday.
Chillicothe had the Trenton girls’ perfect status wobbling, opening the game with a Hunter Keithley 3-pointer in the first 20 seconds and leading throughout the first 20 minutes.
However, after Ainsley Tolson used a perimeter screen to stop and hit a 21-footer to knot the score for the first time at 25-25 with 3:45 to go in the third stanza, the junior standout followed with a pair of free throws only 17 seconds later and a driving deuce 40 seconds after that to put her team in front for the first time at 29-25.
The guest Lady Hornets didn’t melt down, countering with consecutive treys from senior guard Harlie Jones in a 41-seconds span to lead again.
A Salem Croy triple in the last minute of the third gave the hosts a 1-point advantage going to the fourth quarter, but Chillicothe kept battling, regaining leads at 35-32, 37-35, and 39-37. However, first-time Maggie Pfaff’s short-range shot with 3:37 left proved to be CHS’ last field goal of the night.
A left-corner triple by Croy – her fourth of the evening – nudged the Lady Bulldogs back into the lead with 2:53 to go before Trenton did the rest of its damage with 6-of-8 free-throw shooting in the last 100 seconds.
Statistically, Croy’s 18 points paced Trenton to win No. 6 with Tolson tallying 12. Chillicothe unofficially had 16 from Keithley and nine by Jones, each burying three 3s, and 12 rebounds by Kennedie Kieffer.
Trenton greatly enhanced its chances by pounding the offensive glass, unofficially collecting 16 of its own misses, a number equal to Chillicothe’s defensive grabs. The Lady Bulldogs also had an 18-7 advantage in turnovers.

The boys’ game inexplicably had the teams combine for an average of only one point per minute in the first half and only one basket in the last 5:55 of the half.
After a brief scoring surge to begin the second half – a combined 10 points in 61 seconds to start the half, the offensive malaise largely returned.
After the home team scored five points in 26 seconds, including Dylan Harris’ trey, to lead 22-18 with 4:10 remaining in the third period, it would have to wait 9:14 to move beyond 22.
In the interim, Chillicothe, after another 3-minutes-plus scoring drought to go with its 7:13 gap in the second and early third stanzas, reeled off six points in 45 seconds. Two Adler Marshall left-side lay-ins off nifty setups and husky power forward Walker Graves’ cherry-picking, transition layup put CHS in front to stay at 24-22 with 2:08 left in the third.
Having again not scoring for three minutes bridging the last two periods, the Hornets steadily pulled away – mostly due to their defensive chokehold on the Bulldogs.
When the Hornets tacked together 10 more unanswered points over a 4-minutes stretch of the final frame, they had gone on a 16-0 run to lead 34-22 with three minutes left.
For good measure, after THS ended its long fast with a Lathan Croy right-elbow jumper at the 2:56 mark, CHS scored eight points in a row in 59 seconds, including another four by the unsung Marshall, to build its lead to 18.
Statistically, Chillicothe benefitted greatly after intermission by, unofficially, adding only three more giveaways to its first-half total of eight. The Hornets also unofficially out-rebounded the Bulldogs 30-21 in addition to their defensive suffocation.
The winners’ scoring was led by Westley Brandsgaard’s 13 markers and  Marshall’s 12 – five of them second-chance points. Trenton had eight from D. Harris.
Brandsgaard also paced CHS’ board work with eight, while Marshall snared five caroms and Jonathan Burk six off the bench. The Hornets unofficially had an 8-2 advantage on the offensive boards.

Graves made his presence felt all around with eight points, a game-high three steals, and four boards.