Hornets' 17-5 stretch in second quarter and 10-2 burst in fourth key 52-43 triumph over Smithville Friday (Nov. 30) in consolation semifinals of Savannah Invitational Tournament

SAVANNAH, Mo. — Taking their cue from the distaff counterparts the night before, the Chillicothe High School basketball Hornets seized control with a big second-quarter run Friday night (Nov. 30) and segued it into a solid Savannah Invitational Tournament victory.
Facing Smithville in the tourney’s consolation semifinals, the Hornets notched win No. 1 of the just-underway 2018-19 season, 52-43. It advances the CHS boys (1-1) to Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. consolation game against St. Joseph: Benton.
Friday’s clash saw the Hornets still lean very, very heavily for scoring on juniors Westley Brandsgaardd and C.J. Pfaff, their only two players with significant prior varsity experience. That tandem combined for 43 of the 52 CHS points after netting 33 between them in the team’s season opener against Maryville last Wednesday.
What made their production part of a winning performance this time, rather than a footnote to a dismal loss, was the difficulty the Hornets’ defense caused a shorthanded Smithville squad.
Against the Warriors team reportedly minus several players injured during SHS’ recently-ended football season, instead of a more-talented Maryville club, the Hornets were deployed by head coach Tim Cool in a diamond-and-1 (1-2-1-1), three-quarters-court press much of the way.
While not often forcing transitional scoring opportunities, the press caused a half-dozen or more Smithville turnovers that gave possession back to Chillicothe without the Warriors getting a look at the basket.
With those extra offensive opportunities, the Hornets created enough separation to be comfortably ahead down the stretch.
After a 7-0 Smithville surge near the end of the opening period and starting the second gave it a 14-10 lead, the teams traded baskets, leaving Chillicothe behind 16-12 with 6-plus minutes remaining in the first half. By the time the horn sounded for intermission, the Hornets were up by eight.
What became a 17-3 CHS stretch began with baby steps – six made free throws in a row by Pfaff – that edged the Hornets back in front, where they’d been three times in the first quarter.
Two of Chillicothe’s seven non-Brandsgaard/Pfaff points came on a Hayden Simmer transition lay-in from the left side off a Pfaff setup, making it eight CHS tallies in a row.
A swap of free throws and a Smithville deuce left the score at 21-19, CHS, before the Hornets ran off another eight straight on two Peyton Forck foul shots and consecutive Brandsgaard treys. The brief, but intense, burst suddenly had the spread at 10 points before the Warriors got the last two points of the half to make it 29-21 at intermission.
Smithville used those two free throws to start what became a 7-0 run of its own, keeping Chillicothe off the scoreboard for nearly the first seven minutes of the second half. Only the Hornets’ relative success at limiting the Warriors’ attack throughout the third period allowed CHS to still be in front, 32-29, going to the fourth frame.
Having produced only a 3-points play by Brandsgaard during the entire third stanza, Chillicothe’s offense immediately reawakened once the fourth commenced.
A half-minute in, on the first possession, Pfaff drove and scored along the baseline. Ten seconds later, he converted one of his four steals in the game into a driving deuce and a 7-points lead only 40 seconds into the final segment.
While Smithville was netting only three widely-spaced free throws in the first four or five minutes of the last quarter, Chillicothe was drawing away to as much as a game-best 14-points lead.
Pfaff turned a Bradley Riley offensive rebound into a 3-pointer from right of the key to ignite what became a 10-2 surge that included a Brandsgaard left-side lay-in, putback, and left-corner 3-ball.
Although Smithville did manage to halve that gap behind a flurry of three treys, it did not have enough time to seriously threaten to steal the win late.
Statistically, for Chillicothe, Brandsgaard pumped in a game-high 25 points, including knocking down three of his six triple tries. He also snared a handful of rebounds.
The wiry, 6’2” Pfaff notched his first career double-double, not only netting 18 points – half of them during 12 free-throw attempts, but bringing down 11 rebounds in addition to his four steals.
A key factor in the Hornets’ success was the disparity in turnovers. CHS committed only eight – merely two in the first half – to Smithville’s 16.
Nathan Fuller’s 11 points led former Midland Empire Conference member Smithville.