CHS' Kennedie Kieffer and Hunter Keithley each score 18 points in 38-33 Midland Empire Conference home victory over Maryville. Lady Hornets move to 15-7.
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Their outside shooting again MIA, the Chillicothe High School basketball Lady Hornets leaned heavily, first, on the inside scoring ability of 6’ junior center Kennedie Kieffer and, late, on the free-throw shooting of sophomore wing player Hunter Keithley to reach the 15-wins level for the season Wednesday night (Feb. 14, 2018) with a 38-33 triumph over the Maryville Lady Spoofhounds.
CHS received all except two of its points from its “K club” tandem, which evenly split those 36 points between them. The only markers they didn’t provide came on a Harlie Jones left-baseline runner that opened the scoring in the second half.
With improving defensive prowess, the Lady Hornets (15-7, 4-2 conf.) gained their third triumph of the season over the promising Lady ’Hounds and their 6’ freshman phenom Serena Sundell. Despite spells of foul trouble and having to be cautious the entire last quarter with four fouls, she popped in 15 points on the heels of having set an MHS girls’ single-game (33 points) and season scoring mark earlier this week.
Chillicothe’s girls, whose long-range shooting difficulties might be traced to a combination of tired legs, a health-shortened roster, and players fighting some degree of illness, won’t get much rest in the near-term. They’ll be part of a varsity doubleheader with the Hornets at Marshall Friday at 6 p.m.
One evening after scrambling back late to nip St. Joseph: Lafayette by a point, the CHS girls again suffered through a one-basket quarter, yet prevailed in the end.
Held to a last-minute deuce in the opening frame by Lafayette Tuesday, the Lady Hornets used up nearly five minutes before getting on the scoreboard for the first time against Maryville (8-11, 3-3 conf.), yet closed the first stanza ahead 8-6 with Kieffer providing all of their points.
The Chillicothe attack then shut down again for almost five minutes at the beginning of the second segment, allowing MHS to net eight points in a row for a 14-8 lead. Keithley’s fast-break layup finally ended the CHS scoring strike, but it proved to be the home team’s only production of the quarter, which ended with Maryville leading 16-10 at the half.
Jones’ hoop in the first 30 seconds of the last half was followed by Keithley’s lane jumper off Jones’ baseline in-bounds pass not quite a minute later, bring Chillicothe within two, but then Maryville flipped the lid shut on the hoop. For 6-1/2 minutes, the Lady Hornets again failed from the field, but were saved by four Keithley foul shots matching the Lady Spoofhounds’ output in that stretch.
Thanks to that defensive stubbornness, when Kieffer turned into the lane and banked home an 8-footer while being fouled with eight seconds left in the third quarter, CHS was behind by merely one. When she completed three-points play, the game moved into the fourth frame knotted at 20-20.
Kieffer’s stickback of a teammate’s missed trey just over 40 seconds into the last segment gave her team a lead it would preserve the rest of the way.
Keithley had the ball knocked away on a drive to the right block on the next CHS possession, but was able to grab the loose ball and bank it off the glass, starting what would be an 11-points stanza for her, even without any future buckets.
Another Kieffer basket-and-1 – this one set up by Liberty Cox’s perfectly-measured and -timed lob pass from the right wing to the low post – grew Chillicothe’s lead to five with 4:25 left. Four Keithley foul shots in the “bonus” pushed the spread to 31-24 with 2:41 to play, but Maryville hung in.
Treys by Emily Cassavaugh, another lanky Lady ’Hounds frosh, and Sundell helped make it a 1-possession contest again with 45 seconds left, but Keithley sank her last five free throws in the closing 62 seconds to get her side to the finish line in front.
Statistically, Kieffer matched six baskets with 6-of-8 work at the free-throw line for her 18 points, while Keithley was a superb 12 of 14 at the stripe – all after intermission. As a team, CHS went 18 of 24 at the line, helping compensate for its failure to hit even one shot from beyond the 3-point arc this night.
The defensive work of, at different times, Keithley, Jordan Hibner, and Catey Trout meshed with Sundell’s foul woes to limit her to only two field goals and six points in the first three quarters before she closed strong.
Amberlea Auffert was a thorn in the Lady Hornets’ side with mid-range shooting, hitting four such conceded shots for eight points while CHS was fixated on Sundell.