First-half runs of 13 and nine consecutive points lead to home rout of Columbia: Hickman Thursday; Lady Hornets now 4-4
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — The Chillicothe High School Lady Hornets struck while the iron was hot Thursday night. As a result, they’ll enjoy a .500 2017-18 season record while they enjoy a week-plus break.
Chillicothe (4-4) capitalized in a huge way when Emma Chapman, Columbia: Hickman’s 6’3” junior pivot, picked up two quick fouls after scoring the first basket of Thursday’s game, reeling off the next 13 points on its way to a deceptively-close 58-47 non-conference win.
While the final margin was barely double digits, the Lady Hornets led by as many as 23 points with 5-1/2 minutes remaining. The Lady Kewpies (1-5) used an inconsequential late spurt to tidy up the final gap.
CHS’ girls, with back-to-back victories, won’t play again for eight nights before facing Marceline on Dec. 29 in the “High School Holiday Hoops” event at Trenton, hosted by the North Central Missouri College Foundation.
Hickman drew first blood Thursday, but soon lost its tall center to foul woes for about the last 15 minutes of the opening half. Given that good fortune, Chillicothe took full advantage.
It tied the game at 2-2 with two Kennedie Kieffer free throws after one of the Hickman center’s two fouls, then took the lead for good on sophomore wing guard Jordan Hibner’s first of three treys on the night.
When CHS sophomore guard Hunter Keithley netted the first two of her eventual game-high 17 points on a cherry-picking layup at the 3:40 mark of the opening quarter, the Lady Hornets had strung together a lucky 13 points in a row for their first dual-digits lead.
After Hickman used three offensive rebounds to finally score on a fourth shot with about two minutes to go in quarter No. 1, the Lady Kewps were within nine. However, Hibner connected again from outside the arc less than a half-minute later and the gap was never less than 10 points the rest of the way.
Hibner’s second trifecta with 1:33 left in the first stanza began a second extended CHS run of the first nine minutes. Before the opening segment ended, Keithley swiped the ball off a Hickman player’s dribble at the Lady Kewpies’ free-throw line and took it all the way to the other end for a layup and, as time expired, hit a tough runner in traffic on the left baseline to leave the hosts possessing a massive 22-6 lead after eight minutes.
Keithley made it six points in a row personally with a driving layup from the key inside the first half-minute of quarter No. 2, completing a string of nine CHS markers in under two minutes.
Hickman briefly spurred hope among its fans on hand when it blanked Chillicothe for over 3-1/2 minutes later in the second segment while getting eight unanswered points of its own.
Its lead cut from 18 to 10, Chillicothe reasserted itself, ending the first half on a 6-0 counter-attack Keithley capped with a putback after assisting on the two preceding buckets.
Even with Chapman finally returning to the fray at the start of the third quarter, the 33-17 halftime score gave way to a 47-25 spread when Maggie Pfaff converted Maddi Graham’s 2-on-1 fast-break feed into a layup with 1:28 to go in the third quarter.
The Chillicothe lead remained 20 points or more – topped by a 55-32 margin after Keithley’s pull-up trey from the top of the key with 5:33 to go in the contest – for more than five minutes.
Then, as Chillicothe did some experimentation with personnel and end-of-game strategy while having the comfortable cushion, the Columbians closed the contest on the 15-3 push.
Statistically, Chillicothe had good support for Keithley’s 17 tallies. Hibner and Kieffer each scored 11 and forward Pfaff had eight off the bench.
In addition to her scoring, Keithley unofficially had a team-high eight rebounds and four assists. Senior point guard Harlie Jones unofficially led CHS with five assists.
Chapman still managed to lead the Boone County club’s balanced scoring, despite playing basically half the game. She netted 11 points. Three others tallied between seven and nine.