Nine of 10 players dressed out score in 65-33 romp past Marceline Friday in NCMC "High School Holiday Hoops" action. CHS girls now 5-4

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
TRENTON, Mo. — Starting fast and receiving contributions up and down the roster, Chillicothe (Mo.) High School’s basketball Lady Hornets moved to the high side of the .500 mark for the first time in the 2017-18 season just before 2017 ended Friday, Dec. 29, with a 65-33 rout of Marceline in the “High School Holiday Hoops” shootout at North Central Missouri College.
The Lady Hornets (5-4) never trailed in posting their third triumph in succession, netting the game’s first four points on their way to a 14-7 lead after one quarter, a 33-16 margin at halftime, and a 47-25 advantage after three stanzas before having the “running clock” timekeeping rules in effect the last four minutes.
Unofficially, Chillicothe’s scoring was led by 19 points from sophomore Hunter Keithley, who also dished out a handful of assists. Several teammates, including a couple of reserves, just missed scoring in dual digits. Starters Jordan Hibner and Kennedie Kieffer netted nine points apiece, unofficially, while backups Catey Trout with eight and Maddi Graham with seven posted varsity-career highs.
“Got to see a lot of different (personnel) combinations tonight,” Darren Smith, CHS head coach, smiled during a post-game interview.
Next for the basketball Lady Hornets will be Tuesday, Jan. 2, home play against Lawson. In a change from the routine, in order to accommodate having both the girls’ and boys’ play be varsity/junior-varsity doubleheaders on the same trip, both junior-varsity games will start at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday – the JV boys at the Chillicothe Middle School fieldhouse and the JV girls at CHS’ gym. The girls’ varsity game then will follow at CHS at about 6 p.m., followed by the varsity boys’ action at about 7:15-7:30.
Friday night at NCMC, Kieffer’s free throw after collecting an offensive rebound in the game’s first half-minute established a Chillicothe advantage it never squandered.
The first basket of the game was the first of Hibner’s three 3-pointers, this one from the right wing in the second minute, making the margin 4-0.
Marceline (3-5), a much-smaller school, got a Darcy Dorrell trey with 3:45 left in the first quarter to move within 6-5, but Keithley’s stickback of a teammate’s missed triple began a 6-0 CHS spurt in less than a minute that ignited the booster rocket which carried the Lady Hornets inexorably farther and farther ahead the rest of the night.
Chillicothe scored the last eight points of the first half, including another Hibner trey and Keithley’s buzzer-beating left-side layup that ran around the rim before dropping for the 17-points lead.
With a 20-points lead early in the third quarter, the Lady Hornets became flat-footed in their zone defense, allowing a pair of uncontested deuces from the right side which prompted CHS head coach Darren Smith to take a timeout. A switch back to a player-to-player defense served the purpose of getting the team refocused and physically re-engaged.
“We were just really lazy right then. I felt like we weren’t putting forth a lot of effort,” Smith recollected. “Like (assistant coach Terry) McKiddy said, ‘We’re playing like we’re up 20.’
“… We just had to refocus them just a little bit. We had to go to ‘man’ and then came back to the zone later.”
Chillicothe outscored Marceline 11-5 the remainder of that stanza and extended the dominance eventually to a 22-7 gap which Trout capped with a left-quarter-court trey off Maggie Pfaff’s pass and then Trout’s finishing layup on a 3-on-1 fastbreak.
“Catey Trout does a lot of things for us that don’t necessarily show up in the box scores,” the Lady Hornets head coach noted, pleased the junior was able to get some of the limelight on this occasion.
Statistically, one of the most positive aspects of the game for CHS was its low turnovers total, unofficially tracked at only seven.
With nine of the 10 players used contributing at least two, the 65 points the Lady Hornets rang up is their most of the season, coming on the heels of a 58-points performance in their home win over Columbia: Hickman eight nights before.
“Offensively, we’re farther along than really I thought we’d be,” shared Smith, “and maybe not quite as far along defensively as I hoped we’d be.”