Seeking 20th win of season, share of conference lead, Hornets cut 15-points gap in first half to five early in fourth quarter at St. Joseph, but lose to Fighting Irish a 22nd-straight time, 69-56

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Chillicothe High School’s basketball Hornets accomplished several components they needed to meet their objective of defeating St. Joseph: Lafayette’s Fighting Irish on the road Tuesday night.
They shot the ball well from the floor – 58 percent overall, including just over 60 percent from 2-points distance and sophomore reserve guard C.J. Pfaff drilling three trifectas without a miss, holding their own on the backboards, and avoiding being buried under an avalanche of Fighting Irish points in one, long stretch.
However, despite shaving a 15-points deficit in the last minute of the first half to five 90 seconds into the fourth period, Hornets seventh-year head coach Tim Cool – like predecessor Matt Brownsberger during his 4-years tenure – continues in quest of his first coaching win over Lafayette after the Fighting Irish used a series of smaller spurts to fend off the determined Hornets, 69-56, in Midland Empire Conference action.
For the 22nd time in succession – dating back to a Chad Snyder-guided Hornets triumph on Jan. 2, 2007, Lafayette (16-7, 5-0 conf.) took the Hornets’ measure, finishing on a 17-9 push in the last six minutes after a Pfaff deuce with 61⁄2 minutes remaining had CHS its closest since trailing 19-14 two quarters earlier.
“They’re really good,” Cool commented after his CHS teams moved to 0-11 against the north St. Joseph team, “and I thought our guys just fought like crazy.”
Chillicothe (19-4, 4-2 conf.) not only would have ended its decade-plus winning drought against the Irish with a win, but would have put itself within a victory over Cameron of no worse than a share of the league crown. However, that now will have to wait for another year.
Bedeviled by slow starts of late, the Hornets got off well in this one, riding a 6-0 mini-run of their own via buckets by Jack Willard, Adler Marshall, and Walker Graves to an 8-4 lead just past the middle of the first segment.
However, Lafayette’s press and lightning-like fast break unleashed its longest run of the night – 11 unanswered points, including three treys, in less than 90 seconds – and CHS never again possessed the ball with a chance to tie.
However, once the Hornets halted that run, they did a reasonably good job of staying on the fringe of contention, even while having a third game in a row with more than 20 turnovers.
“I thought our guys adjusted to the speed, because this is a really fast, athletic team,” Cool said in post-game comments on an online videocast. “… I thought our guys did a good job of managing pressure.”
Within 37-27 at halftime, thanks to 11 Marshall markers – “that first half, he played tremendously well,” Cool complimented – and five consecutive Westley Brandsgaard tallies in the last 40 seconds of the first half, Chillicothe inched with eight in the third period, then seven, and finally ended the frame down only six as Pfaff hit his third triple off a scramble 18 seconds before the buzzer.
CHS had another possession in the quarter’s last seven seconds, but didn’t get a shot away in time. Given that the Hornets were to have the ball to start the fourth, a conversion there and another to begin the last regulation stanza could have had them within a possession or even tied, but it wasn’t to be.
After Pfaff’s deuce made it 52-47 with 6:30 on the clock, LHS star guard Diego Bernard scored inside twice – the second time becoming a three-points play – and two Irish free throws on the next possession pushed the gap back to 12 and the Hornets’ goose was cooked.
Statistically, Bernard rang up a game-high 26 points with teammates Tre Washington and Tyson Koch adding 14 and 12, respectively.
The Hornets also had three twin-digit scorers with Marshall and Brandsgaard – who was perfect on 10 free throws – each scoring 16 points and Pfaff 12.