Visiting Maryville Spoofhounds scores first eight points of Tuesday's Midland Empire Conference game, follow with 16-3 stretch on way to 53-44 victory
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — For more than a month, the Chillicothe High School basketball Hornets stacked victory on victory, prospering 10 times in a row – often despite modest offense – on the strength of holding each of those 10 opponents to fewer than 50 points and often less than 40.
Tuesday night, in their first Midland Empire Conference home game of 2017-18, the chances of extending that stifling defensive stretch at the expense of the Maryville Spoofhounds seemed limited beforehand.
As it turned out, the Hornets came close – limiting the Spoofhounds (8-3, 1-1 conf.) to a respectable 53 points, but, given their continued offensive impotence, that still meant defeat.
Unable to score during the game’s first four minutes, behind 8-0 by the time they got on the scoreboard, and eventually throttled on seven field goals in the first 24 minutes, CHS’ Hornets never led and lost to visiting Maryville 53-44.
“They’re a good defensive team,” Tim Cool, head coach of the Hornets, credited Maryville for holding his club in check much of the way. “They’re athletic and they guard well.”
Chillicothe (13-2, 1-1 conf.) will have to live with that defeat as the taste in its mouth for a while as the Hornets, in a midseason scheduling rarity, don’t have another game for 11 days until they face southwest Missouri’s Strafford at Camdenton Saturday, Jan. 20, in the Camdenton High-hosted Shootout at the Lake.
“It’s a really fun trip. I think our guys enjoy it,” Cool relates. “. … It’s become something we really look forward to.”
CHS’ boys don’t have another league game for exactly three weeks until hosting Smithville Jan. 30.
“That’s a long stretch,” Cool said of the unusual thin slate of game action in midseason. “… Since that’s what it is, that’s what it is.”
Taking the glass-half-full view, he sized things up as “we’ve got some time now to really get in there and practice before we go to Camdenton.”
Tuesday’s Chillicothe-Maryville game saw the visiting ’Hounds play with the lead the final 30:51 after Tyler Houchin’s right-corner trey broke the scoring ice 69 seconds in.
“We were on our heels from the very beginning,” Cool said.
The closest the home team came to erasing its early deficit was when it answered MHS’ opening flurry with 6-consecutive points in less than a 2-minutes span in the latter half of the first period.
Just over 4:20 into the action, Adler Marshall’s right-side lay-in off a lob lead pass to the right low post by Westley Brandsgaard got Chillicothe on the scored for the first time. Two Brandsgaard foul shots about 80 seconds after that and point guard Jack Willard’s unexpected layup with a low-post spin move with 1:45 left in the first quarter trimmed the CHS to two, 8-6.
However, 15 seconds later, Jake Woods of Maryville knocked down a trifecta from left of the key for an 11-6 lead his team then held after one frame.
As noteworthy as Maryville’s initial salvo had been in putting Chillicothe “behind the 8-ball,” Woods’ shot proved to be the flashpoint for what ultimately was the most-decisive stretch of dominance in the contest.
Maryville pushed its lead to seven with a bucket 90 seconds into the second stanza before both sides went dry on the offensive end.
More than three minutes passed before another point was registered, but once the Spoofhounds relocated their scoring touch, they extended the surge Woods had started back late in the first stanza to an eventual 16-3 run over virtually a full quarter’s length – 7:54. When sophomore guard Tate Oglesby popped in a 15-foot, pull-up jumper from the left baseline to cap the long run, MHS led 24-9.
Held to three field goals in the game’s first 14-1/2 minutes by a combination of energetic Maryville defense, cold shooting, faulty ballhandling and passing, and an increasingly-tentative approach, Chillicothe was on the verge of being blown out on its own floor, but predictably resisted that threat.
Capitalizing at the free-throw line as it did all night – Chillicothe made 18 of 22 charity tosses in the game, the hosts scored five of the last seven points of the first half to trim their deficit to 12, 26-14, at intermission.
Given they rallied from a 20-points halftime deficit to catch Platte County late in the game in their only prior loss, the Hornets weren’t fazed by this situation as they came back on the court to begin the second half. However, as their coach acknowledged afterward, it wasn’t an ideal situation.
“When you’re down 12 at the half against that type of team, you’ve put yourself in a bad spot,” Cool assessed.
As they hoped, their accelerated scoring rate of the late moments of the first half carried over to the second. However, while they became more productive, Maryville’s Woods was scoring about as often as they were, largely resulting in the teams swapping points as time drained from the clock.
“It didn’t really start clicking until the second half,” Cool said of his team’s offense. “I didn’t feel we adjusted real well in the first half. It was just trying to survive the first half, instead of trying to really thrive and be aggressive and take the game to them. I felt like they took the game to us.”
CHS did manage to score consecutively at mid-third quarter and again about a minute later, but that still left it down eight, 34-26, going to the final segment.
Within the first 90 seconds of the last period, however, the home crowd sensed their favorites would still manage to pull out the comeback win after Willard’s step-back trey from the top of the key and C.J. Pfaff’s two free throws trimmed the margin to 36-31 with still 6-1/2 minutes left.
Crucially, Maryville sank two free throws on its next possession, beginning a new stretch of traded scores. When Oglesby completed a driving three-points play at mid-stanza, the ’Hounds lead was back to nine, a margin at which he kept it a half-minute later by answering Konner Sewell’s nifty, left-baseline-drive, reverse layup with his own driving deuce.
Sophomore Pfaff then came ever-so-close to tightening things almost single-handedly when he netted a netted a trey from the right quarter-court with 3:10 left, blocked and grabbed a MHS shot at the other end, and then hurried upcourt to take a pass and launch, in rhythm, another 3-point attempt. However, what seemed to be destiny beckoning the youngster into a hero’s role proved a mirage as his shot caught only iron and Maryville rebounded, still ahead by six, rather than three, with about 2-1/2 minutes to play.
An easy Oglesby left-side lay-in when a teammate calmly thwarted Chillicothe’s attempt at a perimeter double-team made it a 3-possessions game again as the clock moved under two minute and, when Chillicothe misfired on its next possession, the outcome seemed to be in focus.
However, Chillicothe had one last gasp in it, Brandsgaard stealing a sideline in-bounds pass and driving to hit a short shot – his lone basket of the game – while drawing another foul. Polishing off the three-points play with his ninth made free throw in as many attempts, he again pulled Chillicothe within a handful, 47-42, with 80 seconds to go.
Then came the death knell for the Hornets as, having fouled Oglesby with 1:09 remaining, they failed to collect the rebound of his errant bonus-situation try. After missing one putback try, Maryville again collected the carom and this time Dowis tallied on his team’s third try, pushing the spread back to three possessions with 1:03 to go when Chillicothe could have had the ball with a minute-plus remaining and a chance to close within two or three with a score.
Brandsgaard got back to the foul line one more time only a few seconds later and completed an 11-of-11 night there to once more make it a 5-points game. However, his arguably-ill-advised, but understandable, foul when Maryville still had the ball in the middle of the backcourt with nearly eight of its 10 allowed seconds to cross the time line already elapsed sent Dowis back to the charity stripe himself. Already a perfect six of six there himself, he knocked down his seventh and eighth in a row to restore the 3-possessions cushion.
“We didn’t make as many plays as we needed to” to complete the comeback, observed Cool.
Rushed Chillicothe misses or miscues led to Dowis going back to the stripe twice more in the final 35 seconds, missing one of two each time, but boosting his side’s final margin of victory at nine.
Statistically, the Spoofhounds’ most-dynamic offensive player, Dowis, was held to six points through three periods, a scenario similar to the Hornets’ best scorer, sophomore Brandsgaard, who did not have a basket in the first three stanzas, but was eight of eight at the foul line.
In the end, each still finished as their respective team’s top scorer of the night – Dowis with a game-high 16 and Brandsgaard with 13.
Each team had another underclassman – both sophomores – reach twin digits, Oglesby with 14 and Pfaff with 10.
A couple of unofficial statistics illuminate key facets of Maryville’s win, beyond its quick start and later long, first-half run.
Despite their quicker-paced offensive style, the Spoofhounds unofficially turned the ball over only five times, one-third Chillicothe’s total. In addition, they thwarted CHS’ precision-pass-oriented offensive system to such a degree that the Hornets had only four of their relatively-minuscule 12 field goals set up by assists. Chillicothe entered the game averaging over 14 assists a night.
Both teams were impeccable in their free-throw shooting. While the Hornets finished 18 of 22, as previously noted, Maryville drained 10 of its first 11 before Dowis inconsequentially missed two of the ’Hounds’ last three in the final 40 seconds.