CHS girls reel off 13 points in a row in 4-1/2 minutes stretch to claim lead, use eight treys to rout defending Savannah Invitational Tournament champions from KC in Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, championship semifinal
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
SAVANNAH, Mo. — Late in the first quarter, junior reserve guard Magy Thomas was the first four Chillicothe High School basketball Lady Hornets who combined to generate eight 3-point baskets Thursday night, Thomas’ cutting into the biggest deficit CHS faced on its way to a surprising 51-34 thumping of Kansas City: Staley in the championship semifinals of the 44th-annual Savannah Invitational girls’ tournament.
The game, which advances Chillicothe to Saturday’s 7 p.m. title gams against Independence: William Chrisman, also was highlighted by a second-straight double-double from 6’ senior center Kennedie Kieffer, who ruled the backboards with 17 caroms snagged, unofficially, while scoring 13 points. Kieffer is averaging a double-double in points and rebounds thus far.
Thomas’ right-wing triple with 43 seconds remaining in the opening stanza reduced a 10-5 gap to 10-8 after one frame. When Jordan Hibner hit her first of four early in the second quarter, Chillicothe regained the lead at 11-10 and Hunter Keithley’s first of two triples put the Lady Hornets (3-0) ahead for keeps at 16-15 with just less than two minutes remaining in the first half.
Up 20-15 at intermission, thanks to a 9-0 close to the opening half, Chillicothe extended its skein of unanswered markers to 14 in the first 90 seconds of the second half when Kieffer converted Keithley’s pass for a right-side point-blank bucket and then senior Laney Gaston joined the 3-points act from the top of the key on one of classmate Catey Trout’s two assists.
Following three Staley tallies in succession, two Hibner trifectas and another by Keithley helped power Chillicothe to a 45-25 lead in the final minute of the third quarter, effectively putting the contest out of reach. A fourth-quarter, cherry-picking layup by Keithley gave the Lady Hornets their largest lead, 51-30.
Staley led four times in the game’s first 12 minutes, but once Chillicothe’s offense found its rhythm – and perhaps Staley’s short, 3-players bench contributed to fatigue, the game became no contest over the last 20 minutes.
After struggling with its ballhandling against, first, Staley’s girl-to-girl defense and then a 2-1-2 zone, Chillicothe found itself down 10-5 in the first quarter and 15-11 in the second.
However, after the Lady Falcons switched to a pressuring 1-3-1 zone and caused a pair of turnovers in it, Chillicothe remembered to attack the seams with quicker passes and back cuts and turned the tide the last three minutes of the first half.
Beginning with Hunter Keithley’s right-side lay-in off a baseline cut and Kennedie Kieffer’s pass from the elbow with just under three minutes left in the second stanza, the Lady Hornets closed the first half on a 9-0 run.
Keithley later drained a right-wing trey, Kieffer – who pulled down 11 first-half rebounds – put back a Jordan Hibner miss, and Keithley added two free throws, giving her seven of the nine points in that surge after being scoreless the first 13 minutes of the game.
Statistically, in addition to Kieffer’s commanding double-double, Hibner’s four triples helped her net a game-high 16 points. Keithley paired 12 points with a team-high four assists.
Staley, the tourney’s defending champion, received 13 points from sophomore guard Morgan Ferrara and 10 by junior guard Gracie Neff.