Poor defensive rebounding by CHS leads to 16-0 Kearney advantage in second-chance points in 53-33 KHS win Monday

KEARNEY, Mo. — Chillicothe (Mo.) High School’s basketball Lady Hornets likely held their own with the host Kearney Lady Bulldogs in first-shot shooting success in their first-round clash in the “Bulldog Classic” tournament Monday night (Jan. 8, 2018). Had they rebounded KHS’ first-try misses effectively, the Lady Hornets might have had a crack at pulling a surprise and extending their winning streak.
The game’s tone was set on its first field goal when 6’5” senior center Callie Schwarzenbach of the Lady Bulldogs stretched her wingspan to snare a teammate’s errant attempt from over the head of a CHS player and banked the putback off the glass and in for a 2-0 lead about 90 seconds after tipoff.
Chillicothe would never be even in the game after that, largely because Kearney unofficially outscored them 16-0 in second- or third-chance points as a pivotal factor in an eventual 53-33 KHS victory.
“When they did miss, we couldn’t get a rebound,” Darren Smith, CHS head coach, rightly lamented in a post-game broadcast interview after Kearney grabbed a dozen offensive rebounds, nearly as many as his team’s defensive boards. “We were so focused on one or two girls, to try to get those boxed out, that we never could get going and get in the flow, rebounding-wise.”
As a result of its setback, Chillicothe (7-5) will take on Raytown: South in the tourney’s consolation semifinals Wednesday at 5 p.m. Raytown: South lost to St. Joseph: Lafayette 41-28 in Monday’s last game.
Also on the consolation side of the bracket are Kansas City: Southeast, defeated Kansas City: Notre Dame de Sion 68-15 Monday, and the Kearney junior-varsity, which lost to Independence: Fort Osage 46-30 in the opening round.
Chillicothe fell behind Kearney’s varsity (10-1) 9-1 in the first 5-1/2 minutes, but flurried late in the opening stanza on outside shots.
Jordan Hibner’s right-wing trey on the press break provided the Lady Hornets with their first field goal of the night with about 2:05 left in quarter No. 1. Then, just before time expired in the frame following a half-minute possession, senior point guard Harlie Jones hurriedly launched a 23-footer from quarter-court on the right side that tickled the twine cleanly to leave CHS behind only 11-7 after one.
After the second segment also started slowly from a scoring standpoint, the club’s swapped deuces – Maggie Pfaff converting Maddi Graham’s feed to the left low post – to keep it a 4-points game.
Then the glass came crashing down on Chillicothe.
On consecutive KHS possessions, the Lady Hornets’ defense forced a miss, only to see the Lady Bulldogs latch onto the carom and hit a follow shot.
Lady Hornet Hunter Keithley tried to stem the rising tide with a 3-pointer, but that was rapidly matched by Kearney’s Emma Couch. Another second-chance basket and a fast-break layup followed for the hosts, jumping their lead into double digits for the first time, 24-12.
About a half-minute ahead of halftime, Jones triggered and hit from beyond the arc a second time to make the margin nine, but a couple of seconds before the halftime horn, 5’11” sophomore forward Taylor Frizzell of Kearney – daughter of Stuart Frizzell, lanky starter on CHS’ 1981 state-champion Hornets, according to KCHI Radio’s broadcast, balanced Jones’ first-quarter buzzer-beating trey to give her team a 27-15 lead at the break.
Still in the game at that juncture, Chillicothe hoped and needed to shore up its defensive-rebounding deficiency and perk up its offense during Smith’s halftime instructions, but instead things went the other way.
“We just weren’t aggressive enough,” the coach said of the offensive malaise.
Held to five first-half baskets, the Lady Hornets managed only one point in the first 7:35 of the second half. By the time reserve Laney Gaston banked in a shot in mid-lane after a baseline throw-in, Kearney had produced three more extra-chance baskets – one of them a trey – in the first four minutes and spiked its lead to 42-16.
“If we limit them to one shot and get rebounds, I think defensively we were pretty decent,” the CHS head coach said of the impact of the putback points.
The game effectively out of reach at that point, the Lady Hornets kept plugging away anyway and, with Kearney likely easing back on the throttle a bit, finished the contest on a much-too-late 10-2 streak which allowed for a nicer-looking 20-points loss.
“We didn’t quit. We didn’t give up. We battled and battled,” Smith saluted the late flurry, while noting the likelihood of Kearney letting down a bit on its intensity late.
Statistically, while Kearney’s 16-0 margin in second-chance scoring was the most critical number in the game, the tall Schwarzenbach’s effectiveness in eliminating Chillicothe’s inside offense was important, too. Smith estimated she blocked a half-dozen shots or more, something made more possible by Lady Hornets’ reticence.
“She blocked three or four early and I thought we got a little timid and, instead of going right at her chest, we kind of went off to the side and that makes it a lot easier for a shot-blocker,” the coach reflected, noting he’d hoped a more-direct approach might have drawn a couple of fouls that could have given Schwarzenbach pause as the game went on. Instead, she finished with only a foul or two and, with that freedom, in addition to her blocks, made several over-playing steals on defense as part of 15 Chillicothe turnovers. KHS had only seven turnovers, unofficially.
Scoring-wise, with improvement in its long-range shooting as the shooters relaxed once it had opened up the double-digits lead, Kearney unofficially was led by Frizzell’s 15 points, including two triples. Emma Couch added 12 points, Schwarzenbach netted 10, and Grace Burkemper nine, unofficially.
Chillicothe’s well-balanced, but too-meager, scoring was led by Kennedie Kieffer’s seven points, six of which came in the last few minutes. Jones had six and Pfaff, Hibner, and Keithley five each.
Unofficially, Kearney out-rebounded CHS 27-19. Junior 6-footer Kieffer led the Lady Hornets with seven in that stat, too.