After program's best regular season since 1997-98 state runnerup campaign, CHS boys (21-4) will meet St. Joseph: Benton a third time tonight (Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018) at Cameron in Missouri Class 4 District 16 semifinal
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Having had their program’s finest regular season in 20 years with a 21-4 record, Chillicothe High School’s 2017-18 basketball Hornets begin their postseason action tonight, facing St. Joseph: Benton in the semifinals of the Class 4 District 16 Tournament at Cameron at about 7 o’clock.
The Hornets are the tourney’s No. 2 seed behind Midland Empire Conference and multi-times defending district champion St. Joseph: Lafayette. Each of them had a first-round bye.
Benton began the 6-teams tourney’s lowest seed, but took down No. 3 seed Cameron on the Dragons’ own floor, 58-55.
This will be the third meeting of the season between Chillicothe and Benton’s boys, with the first two going to the Hornets, but in markedly-disparate manners.
Facing a largely-inexperienced Benton squad that didn’t have its lone upperclassman who is taller than 6’1”, a veteran CHS club with size dominated three of the four periods of their Nov. 28 meeting in the Savannah Invitational Tournament.
Just over three weeks ago, the clubs met again in Chillicothe and it was a far-closer contest which wasn’t settled until a final-seconds play.
Exploiting its quickness after nearly a season of seasoning and having 6’4” senior Cole Snapp available and effective this time, Benton had the Feb. 2 game’s last possession after Chillicothe, up by one, missed a free throw with nine seconds to go.
Cardinals 5’10” senior guard Mason Byrd drove along the right side of the lane, attracting multiple defenders.
As he angled toward the basket from near the right baseline and jumped to shoot, a trailing Hornet – 6’3” Westley Brandsgaard – reached up and put his hand atop the ball, rejecting the shot attempt. However, a split-second later, Byrd collided with CHS’ Adler Marshall, who was trying to draw a charging foul.
The baseline official nearby opted to rule that the shot block was clean and that neither a charge on Byrd or blocking foul on Marshall was warranted. The “no call” meant the game was over and the Hornets, who led nearly throughout, but never by more than six points, had won, 40-39.
While Brandsgaard scored 14 points and Marshall 12 to pace CHS to the Midland Empire Conference win, Benton got 15 from Byrd and 10 from Snapp, who hit all four of the shots he took from the floor and both of his free throws.
Back in the early-season contest, Hornets senior guard Konner Sewell had scored a career-high 19 points – far above his regular-season average of 5.4, Brandsgaard netted 16, and Walker Graves 12. Benton got 17 that time from sophomore Choi Ater, who did not play in the second meeting.
The winners of tonight’s boys’ semifinal games at Cameron will clash for the district crown and berth in the state tourney Friday at 6 p.m. at Cameron.