CHS boys net win No. 7 – fourth in a row – by 18 points Tuesday after Lady Hornets close strong for 8-points non-conference verdict
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — After two Jordan Hibner 3-pointers in 75 seconds early in the fourth quarter allowed the Chillicothe High School basketball Lady Hornets to gain enough separation to be in control in the stretch run of what became a 47-38 home victory Tuesday (Dec. 19), a pair of dominating stretches by CHS’ Hornets – one in each half – put them in charge en route to a 55-37 triumph as Chillicothe swept the visiting Kirksville Tigers in non-conference action.
The Hornets’ fourth victory in succession raised their 2017-18 record to 7-1 prior to a Friday late-afternoon game against Lexington in the North Central Missouri College Foundation’s “High School Holiday Hoops” event at Trenton.
The CHS girls’ win followed back-to-back defeats and upped their mark to 3-4 entering a Thursday night home game against Columbia: Hickman.
Tuesday’s distaff duel had the clubs on very close terms most of the first 27 of the 32 total minutes.
Through 3-plus quarters of play – most of it spent with Chillicothe in front, the largest lead was six points. The Lady Hornets had that advantage at 21-15 with a bit under three minutes left in the opening half. However, for more than two-thirds of the time through the first three stanzas, it was a 1-possession game.
Up only 31-30 going to the final frame, CHS finally found a clearer path to victory via Hibner’s flash of outside firepower, solid defense and defensive rebounding, and an extended fade-out by the Kirkville offense.
Neither squad scored in the first two minutes of the last quarter, but, with Kirksville using a sagging zone defense to deny open interior shots or drives, Harlie Jones finally twice found Hibner all alone beyond the arc for daggers.
The first triple by the sophomore shooting guard made it 34-30, CHS with 5:56 to go. After Kirksville countered with a pair of free throws – its only scoring in the first 5:40 of the fourth quarter, Hibner connected from about 21 feet again with 4:42 to play.
That second long-ranger was followed by more than 90 scoreless seconds before Hunter Keithley drove to the left baseline from the wing to score, making it 39-32, Chillicothe.
With the Lady Hornets’ defense in the process of defending and rebounding effectively enough to keep Kirksville from ever scoring consecutively after halftime – CHS only did it twice itself; thus the close terms of the action, that 3-possessions spread and good execution of the delay game in the final few minutes got CHS home in front.
Statistically, Chillicothe had exquisite scoring balance most of the way. Prior to the last minute, it had one player with 10 points, two with eight apiece, and another with six.
After netting four free throws and a layup in the final minute, sophomore Hunter Keithley boosted her final points total to a game-best 14. Kennedie Kieffer, largely avoiding the foul trouble which has been her bane in several recent outings, netted 10 markers, junior reserve forward Maggie Pfaff popped home eight, and Hibner had the six from her final-frame flurry.
Kirksville (1-8), putting up a good fight as it tried for a second win, was led by Kate Wolmering’s 11 points.
Unofficially, Chillicothe’s rebounding, which included corraling seven of the eight shots KHS missed in the last quarter, bettered the Lady Tigers’ 32-25. The 6’ Kieffer brought down eight and Keithley seven, unofficially. CHS also had a 10-2 advantage in second-chance points via its nine offensive boards.
Unofficially, Jones and Keithley earned three assists each with Keithley perhaps providing the game’s shiniest moment when, in transition in the third quarter, she spied Pfaff slipping ahead of the pursuit on the opposite side of the floor and niftily hit her in perfect stride for a layup.
Tuesday’s boys’ action began with a planned interruption not occurring for about 1:40.
As has been done the past handful of years, the final CHS boys’ home game before Christmas is the occasion of a CHS Leadership Class charity event monikered the “Teddy Bear Toss.” Fans are invited to bring a new stuffed toy to the game and to fling it from the stands onto the court as soon as the host Hornets sink their first field goal of the contest.
On this occasion, Chillicothe misfired from point-blank range and long distance a handful of times or so before senior guard Konner Sewell, back-cutting along the right baseline from the corner, accepted Walker Graves’ bounce pass from the right edge of the key and got the ball to the rim for a layup which put the hosts ahead 2-0 at the 6:21 mark.
After perhaps a couple hundred stuffed toys which then rained down on the court were quickly gathered by CHS students, play resumed after a break of a minute at most and the clubs settled into a close early battle.
A left-side trey by junior Austin Penick of Kirksville at the 4:23 mark of the opening period gave Kirksville its first lead, 7-6. It also was its last lead and one which disappeared after only 13 seconds when Sewell matched it from the left corner off the first of forward Walker Graves’ team-leading five assists.
The visiting Tigers managed to knot the score twice more – at 9 and 13 – in the first segment, but when previously-sparingly-used junior forward Peyton Forck flashed down the lane and converted Jonathan Burk’s feed into a basket with 1:26 remaining on the first-quarter clock, the Hornets had the upper hand for good.
Forck’s deuce and sophomore C.J. Pfaff’s fast-break layup off Forck’s heads-up feed gave CHS the last four points of the first quarter and ignited what would eventually be a 17-4 stretch of Hornets dominance which reached all the way into the opening minute of the second half.
After closing the second period with nine unanswered tallies over the last 4:40, including Jack Willard’s triple in the last five seconds, CHS held a 30-17 advantage after Graves made a steal and flipped the ball ahead to Sewell for a layup about 20 seconds into the third.
Scoreless for more than six minutes by that time, Kirksville (4-5) tried to regain its equilibrium.
The Tigers responded with a 9-2 streak of their own to draw within six points, but never got closer.
When Forck fired to sophomore Westley Brandsgaard for an unguarded triple from the right corner with 1:07 remaining in the third period, it began a killer surge by the home team.
Before Kirksville tallied again, the 6’3” Forck scored on a power move from the right block, Adler Marshall netted two free throws and Pfaff one, and Pfaff completed a three-points play while putting back his own miss. The skein of 11 consecutive points in 3-1/2 minutes inflated CHS’ cushion to 19 points and eventually became part of a 15-2 push which established the contest’s biggest lead – 53-32 – with just under 3-1/2 minutes to go.
Statistically, as with their female counterparts, the Hornets prospered with diversity and distribution of points production.
Their top scorer in the game was Pfaff with a modest 10 points. Sewell was right behind with nine, but the most remarkable aspect of the CHS attack was that it had nine players score between four and 10 points.
Senior power forward Graves had a well-balanced stats line with team-highs of eight rebounds and five assists to go with six points.
Forck, who missed the start of the season with an arm injury, probably played more minutes in the first quarter than he had cumulatively in the club’s previous seven outings and had quite the night. He registered six points on 3-of-5 shooting from the floor and earned four assists.
Kirksville, hampered by early and repeated foul trouble for one of its top players – power forward John Bohon, was paced by Penick’s 11 points. Bohon netted eight points even though he probably didn’t play eight minutes total, due to his fouling.