Salvage split of Dec. 7, 2018, girls/boys home doubleheader against neighboring Trenton

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Friday night’s (Dec. 7, 2018) Chillicothe vs. Trenton high school boys’ basketball contest, claimed by CHS at 66-58, might not have featured execution as crisp as the preceding girls’ clash, but it did have its share of similarities, in terms of ebb and flow and eventual decisive home stretch.
Just as in the girls’ contest, each club had stretches when it markedly had the better of play. In both games, the team which scored last in the first half also closed the second half strong to pick up a win free of last-seconds drama.
Trailing 43-40 90 seconds deep in the fourth and final period, Chillicothe tied it on Westley Brandsgaard’s 3-pointer from the left corner. Then, after Mason Baxter’s fast-break putback and Max McNabb’s low-post spin move to the paint moved the score to 45-all, the host Hornets (2-2) drilled back-to-back 3s not quite 90 seconds apart to ignite what would become a game-settling 17-7 stretch.
Sophomore reserve guard Hayden Simmer’s triple from right of the key gave CHS the lead for good with 4:52 remaining. When he then set up C.J. Pfaff for a right-corner trifecta with 3:36 left, Trenton (3-3) would never again own the “rock” with a chance to tie the game or lead.
After making a free throw with 2:02 left, lanky junior point guard Pfaff scored the last three of his career-best 28 points (revised from an initial scorebook listing of 32) off a left-wing driving deuce and free throw combo at the 1:38 mark, making it 55-47, CHS.
A Simmer foul shot with 39 ticks left on the clock created the game’s only double-digits spread, 62-52.
“Our guys figured out a way to win the game and I’m proud of them for that,” kudoed CHS head coach Tim Cool in a post-game broadcast interview.
Long before that, the teams had gone back and forth with multiple lead changes through the first 11-plus minutes.
However, after a Pfaff stop-and-go drive along the right baseline produced a short-range deuce and 19-18 Hornets lead just over three minutes into the second period, Trenton made its first of two surges.
McNabb banked a 7-feet shot off the window only 14 seconds later to begin a 12-5 Bulldogs spurt that he bookended with a press-breaking mini-dunk 44 seconds before halftime.
Down by eight with little time left in the half, CHS used the remainder of the second quarter well. Brandsgaard made a free throw and Pfaff a defensive end steal and 60-feet drive for a layup to halve the Bulldogs’ lead to 30-27 at the mid-game break.
“I felt fortunate that we were only down three at the half,” Cool candidly admitted during his post-game remarks. “I thought they outplayed us in the first half.”
When Brandsgaard fed Pfaff for a trey from left of the key only about 10 seconds into the last half, Chillicothe had erased its 6-points deficit in less than 40 seconds. It went on to seize the lead in short order, countering Isaac Harris’ driving scoop shot with another Brandsgaard-to-Pfaff bomb, this time from right of the key, and adding a Pfaff right-side lay-in after a press steal.
The 11-2 run begun before halftime had put it up by three, but not for long.
A noisy, left-corner 3-pointer by Dylan Harris tied the game not quite a minute after Pfaff’s deuce and commenced a 9-2 THS counteroffensive. A foul shot each by the Harrises left the Bulldogs possessing a 41-37 lead inside the final minute of the third quarter, but Brandsgaard found the range from outside the arc to cut the gap to one, 41-40, after three frames.
Chillicothe caught up again at 43 on another trey by Brandsgaard with 6:15 left, setting the stage less than a couple of minutes later for Chillicothe’s second and deciding surge.
Statistically, in addition to Pfaff’s six treys – two each in the first, third, and fourth periods – and 28 points, the Hornets received five 3s and 25 tallies from fellow junior Brandsgaard. Pfaff also shared the team rebounding lead with Brad Riley at six, led with four steals, and had two assists. Brandsgaard provided a team-best three assists, as well.
“Those guys are leaders and they do it at both ends (of the court), which is really a good thing for us,” commented Cool. “We just can’t have one-dimensional players. They both guard. They both do a lot of things for us.”
Only one other Hornet – Baxter with a pair of deuces and 3-of-4 free-throw shooting for a varsity-career-best seven points – made more than one field goal.
Cool observed developing offensive production beyond the two veterans will take time and experience.
“I think we’re getting there,” he stated in one of his post-game interviews. “I really don’t want to put a lot of offensive pressure on our (inexperienced) guys, because it’s a thing you can’t force.
“… We’ve got some guys who are capable of doing that. It’s just a matter of learning how to play in a varsity basketball game. It’s not easy.”
Trenton was led in scoring by McNabb’s 16 points before he fouled out with two minutes to go and his team down only 50-47. With four triples and a free throw, D. Harris added 13 points and Carson Radcliff, who appeared to mildly sprain an ankle early in the second half, provided 11.
In other statistics, the teams were virtually at the foul line – CHS 12 of 19 and Trenton 12 of 20, but, behind a half-dozen apiece by Brad Riley and Pfaffio, unofficially, six each by Riley, the Hornets unofficially owned a 32-22 advantage on the backboards, including a 12-6 margin on the offensive glass.
Chillicothe earned 12 assists to THS’ seven, unofficially, but also turned the ball over a couple more times, 13-11.
The near-capacity crowd in the CHS gym for the clash of neighboring schools and enhanced by the CHS Leadership Class’ “Teddy Bear Toss” charity promotion, made the night extra fun and exciting.
“The crowd was great,” the CHS coach agreed. “When we get a (big) crowd in this gym, they really make it a great atmosphere for basketball.”
Chillicothe’s boys will entertain Macon in another girls/boys, non-conference, home doubleheader Tuesday. After Tuesday, CHS’ boys remarkably will have only three more home games this season – only one (in early January) in the two succeeding months.