CHS girls capture their Savannah tourney opener by 11 over hosts. Will face KC: Staley in championship semifinal Thursday night

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
SAVANNAH, Mo. — After spotting their less-experienced hosts an early 4-0 advantage Tuesday night (Nov. 27, 2018), Chillicothe High School’s basketball Lady Hornets peeled off the next nine points and never were caught, improving to 2-0 on the just-started season with an uneven 55-44 triumph over the Savannah Lady Savages in the weather-delayed first round of the Savannah Invitational Tournament.
By virtue of their win, the Lady Hornets gained a Thursday night championship-semifinal berth opposite Kansas City: Staley. CHS’ opponent in that 8:30 p.m. contest began the tourney Tuesday with a 76-21 cakewalk past St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond prior to the Lady Hornets’ win.
Once in front after that 9-points spurt, Chillicothe stayed in front, even though a second-stanza sag gave the Lady Savages a couple of possessions with an opportunity to either tie or go back in front.
Once CHS re-established a 2-possessions margin at 20-16 on Maggie Pfaff’s fast-break layup with 2:26 left in the opening half, it never again defended with Savannah having the possibility of evening the score.
The 6-0 mini-run Pfaff’s transition bucket began helped the Lady Hornets lead 30-22 at intermission. When her two free throws four seconds before halftime were followed by eight unanswered Chillicothe points in the first four minutes of the third quarter, the favorites had the first of two 16-points leads they enjoyed in the game.
Despite having graduated four starters from last year’s squad that ended CHS’ 2017-18 season in the district semifinals, Savannah pieced together enough good things to be within single digits as late as 3-1/2 minutes remaining in the game, but seven uninterrupted Lady Hornets points settled the issue once and for all.
Statistically, junior wing guard Hunter Keithley led CHS’ offense with 17 points and seven assists, while senior Kennedie Kieffer double-doubled with 14 points and, unofficially, 12 rebounds. Kieffer also assisted on four Chillicothe baskets. Pfaff chipped in eight points and, unofficially, a half-dozen boards.
Savannah was led in scoring by Grace Stites’ 13 points.