Senior power forward's career-high 26 points plus dozen rebounds key 54-38 triumph at Camdenton after trailing 25-13 in middle of second quarter.

CAMDENTON, Mo. — For a third time this season, Chillicothe High School’s basketball Hornets found themselves in a double-digits deficit in the first half of their “Shootout at the Lake” game against the Strafford Indians Saturday.
While they charged back to have a chance to win both of the prior two, only to ultimately fall short, this time they rode powerful senior forward Walker Graves’ perfect shooting and double-double scoring-rebounding performance to their 14th victory.
Cashing in great setups from teammates for easy deuces and using his uncommon manueverability for a 275-pounder to create close-in shots on his own after sinking an early-game trey, the 6’2” Graves made all eight of his shots from the floor and netted six of eight second-half free throws as his 16-points fourth quarter capped a career-high 26-points, 12-rebounds game that, along with suffocating defense over the last 20 minutes, carried CHS to a 54-38 triumph.
“We just reminded our guys what we needed to do and they went out there and executed,” Tim Cool, CHS head coach, related the gist of the halftime message he imparted.
Of Graves, he declared concisely, “He played great. Not good. A great game.”
Trailing the late-afternoon game 25-13 just past the middle of the second quarter, the Hornets (14-2) tallied 16 of the next 18 points and eventually extended that results-flipping 15-minutes stretch to a 21-4 surge that inverted the 12-points deficit to a 5-points lead by early in the fourth period.
Once in front again – Chillicothe did have a couple of small advantages early, the Hornets stayed there with alert ballhandling and passing, free-throw efficiency, and miserly defense.
After netting 25 points in the contest’s first 12 minutes against what Cool said afterwards he thought was uncommonly-pliable defense, Chillicothe became a stone wall on the Indians’ offensive end, where Strafford is accustomed to scoring, on average, about 60 points a game and which rang up 93 the night before in defeating Ash Grove.
Instead, the 11-6 southwest Missouri squad had only two over a 12-plus minutes stretch from the second quarter until a minute into the fourth. Scoring only 13 points in the final 19-20 minutes, Strafford finished 20 points under their 2017-18 average.
“To hold that team to 13 points in the second half was an amazing achievement. I can’t even tell you how amazing that is,” marvelled Cool.
Chillicothe’s victory, more remarkable in coming after a 10-days layoff since its last outing, gets it right back on the winning track after a home loss to Maryville its last time out.
Tuesday night at 7 o’clock, the Hornets will try to take the first step toward a possible second crack at Maryville when they meet Excelsior Springs in the first round of the Cameron Invitational Tournament. CHS, a comfortable 55-37 winner at Excelsior Springs in December. is seeded second in the tourney behind Maryville.