Boonville (Mo.) girls had won 14 straight before 9-5 CHS outscored them 12-4 in fourth quarter to win 53-46 on road Thursday, Jan. 18
BOONVILLE, Mo. — Two high school girls’ basketball programs which have had significant regular- and postseason success the past several years playing contrasting styles had their current teams meet on the court for a fourth year in a row Thursday night. Fittingly, each continues to look for consecutive triumphs in the fledgling series.
Edged in double overtime at home a year ago with a highly-salty squad, Chillicothe High School’s greener 2017-18 group marched into the Boonville Lady Pirates’ gym Thursday and gritted its way to a surprising, but not shocking, 53-46 triumph that ended BHS’ winning streak at 14 games.
“It’s a fun game. It’s two contrasting styles. It helps them see a slow-down, defensive style and it lets us see that helter-skelter, ‘get after you’ style,” Darren Smith, Chillicothe head coach, reflected on the entertaining series in which the clubs have alternated wins since the 2015 Class 3 state quarterfinals. “… I think we’ll see about keeping it going.”
Thursday’s non-conference victory lifted the Lady Hornets’ record to 9-5 heading into next week’s Cameron Invitational Tournament, in which they seem to stand a good chance of defending their multi-years string of titles. Boonville now is 14-2, having begun the season with a loss to California, who they later beat.
This year’s Chillicothe-Boonville clash shaped up as a clash between Boonville’s potent, takeaways-fueled attack which was averaging about 60 points a game and Chillicothe’s tenacious defense which had held foes to about 36 points a night.
When it got right down to the real nitty-gritty, that’s just where the Lady Hornets won it – albeit after CHS shot its way out of a wobbly start with terrific long-range marksmanship.
Down by eight points six minutes into the foreign-court duel and then down 18-9 before the second quarter was three minutes old, Chillicothe sandwiched trifectas by sophomore guards Jordan Hibner and Hunter Keithley – each their second of a career-high four in the game – around junior center Kennedie Kieffer’s scoring drive down the lane to cut its deficit to a point.
Less than a minute later, Hibner drilled another wing trey to tie the game at 20-20, after which Kieffer took Harlie Jones’ baseline in-bounds pass just left of the paint and popped home a 12-footer which gave the visitors their first lead of the evening with about 2:45 left in the first half.
“Jordan Hibner played a huge part in (getting CHS back on close terms),” Smith noted “Jordan is such a good shooter and so unselfish. I’m sitting there, screaming at her to step up to the line and take that ‘3.’”
The squads swapped the lead three more times before Boonville held a thin 28-27 advantage at intermission, then bounced it back and forth seven more times in the third quarter before Chillicothe took the upper hand for good early in the fourth.
That last stanza began with BHS up 42-41, but not for long.
Kieffer – who exited for a stretch with two fouls midway through the first quarter, but successfully managed herself to last until the game’s last minute before collecting her fifth – hit a lane jumper about 35 seconds into the last segment, the first two of eight unanswered CHS tallies.
Even though Chillicothe’s offense was not prolific, in terms of scoring rapidity, it kept adding to its lead whenever it did score because, at the other end, it had the Lady Pirates walking the plank.
“The girls just kind of settled in, trusted the defense, and then took care of the ball,” Smith said of his squad’s poise in the second half.
With 5’10” inside scoring fulcrum Jamie Lemmons, owner of a team-best 13 points per game scoring average coming in, negated by a front-and-back CHS defensive apporach, Boonville could not locate anyone with a scoring touch this night. In fact, the Lady Pirates went the first five minutes of the fourth frame without a point.
That allowed two Hibner charity tosses on a Boonville player’s technical foul a half-minute after Kieffer’s deuce, Liberty Cox’s two foul shots 75 seconds later, and another drive down the lane by Kieffer to add up to Chillicothe’s second 8-0 run of the game.
This one gave the Lady Hornets a 49-42 lead and Boonville, despite sufficient time, never recovered.
Two Brynn Edwards free throws finally got the hosts on the scoreboard again and Camryn Monteer’s 2-on-1 fast-break layup cut Chillicothe’s lead to three with two minutes left, but those would be the only BHS points of the stanza.
After Boonville missed two free throws on Kieffer’s fifth foul with 45 ticks left, failing to pare Chillicothe’s lead to one or two, Keithley sank both charity chances in a bonus situation with 32 seconds to go and Harlie Jones twice hit one of two in the “double bonus” in the last 15 seconds to ice it.
“I’m so proud of the girls because they believed,” praised Smith in a post-game broadcast interview. “They knew, if they defended hard and didn’t get rattled with (Boonville’s) pressure defense, that we had a shot to win this game and I thought they followed through on that.
“There at the end, they’re trapping (defensively), going crazy on us and I felt like we grew up a little today.”
Statistically, unofficially, Keithley’s 17 points led all scorers, but was only one of three Lady Hornets to reach double digits. Hibner added those two final-quarter free throws to her four triples for 14 points and the 6-foot Kieffer split 10 markers evenly between the halves, despite missing four or five minutes of the opening half with her early fouls distress.
By contrast, Boonville’s normally-more-potent offense generated only one player – Monteer with 11, one less than her average – with a twin-digits points total. Two of its top three scorers for the season – Lemmons and Edwards – totaled only 11 between them after entering averaging a combined 25. Lemmons did not score after halftime.
“(Liberty) battled her all night,” Smith said of CHS senior power forward Cox, who had the primary assignment of battling Lemmons.
However, others provided needed assistance, either by sagging back in front of her in the low post or by alertly providing weak-side, over-the-top help when Cox fronted Lemmons.
“They had trouble just getting it to her and that’s a big key is if we could keep it out of her hands and not let her catch it where she was comfortable with,” disclosed the Chillicothe coach.
CHS’ girls open the Cameron tourney Monday at 8:30 p.m. against Excelsior Springs. The Lady Hornets are seeded second to Savannah, which defeated CHS by 11 at Savannah very early in the season.