After a brief lull late in the first quarter against Raytown: South in "Bulldog Classic" tournament first-round game at Kearney Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, CHS girls roll 52-21 behind Keithley, Kieffer
By PAUL STURM C-T Sports Editor
KEARNEY, Mo. — About seven minutes into their first-round game against Raytown: South in the “Bulldog Classic” tournament Monday evening, the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS basketball Lady Hornets found themselves in a familiar place.
Having scored the contest’s first 10 points, coach Darren Smith’s team had dozed off on offense and the opponent suddenly had started hitting a high percentage of the shots it had been missing earlier, leading to a narrowed 11-8 CHS advantage.
Although occurring much earlier, that shrinking margin mirrored what the Lady Hornets had gone through in their most-recent prior outing at St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond last Friday. On that occasion, a 14-3 lead early in the second stanza evaporated into a halftime tie before a strong CHS finish pulled out a 9-points win.
Facing the dilemma again, Chillicothe’s girls elected to go a different route, this time responding to Raytown: South’s rally with a 15-2 surge in the last 8:03 of the first half which gave it command the rest of the way and, eventually, an uneventful 52-21 triumph.
By virtue of their win and Kansas City: Park Hill’s preceding 50-12 cakewalk past St. Joseph: Lafayette, the Lady Hornets will clash with Park Hill in Wednesday’s 8 p.m. championship semifinal.
The CHS response to Ray-South’s challenge began with a bang-bang.
Executing effectively with the final possession of the first quarter, the Lady Hornets set up their top perimeter shooter, Jordan Hibner, for an open 3-pointer from right of the key. Accepting junior reserve guard Haley Kidd’s pass, Hibner found nothing but net for her second long-ranger of the opening quarter and a 14-8 Chillicothe lead with two seconds to spare.
Owning the ball to start the second quarter, the Lady Hornets again moved the ball well and quickly, finally creating an open look from outside the arc for Hunter Keithley, who already had netted nine points in the opening frame. The junior’s left-wing shot also was true just over a half-minute into the second segment, meaning in a span of less than 40 seconds and without Raytown: South having a chance to touch the ball, Chillicothe had added six points to its lead, tripling it to nine, and sending it winging toward victory.
The Lady Hornets’ facility for long runs, exhibited by the 10-0 start and later 15-2 stretch in the opening half, continued all game.
Ahead 26-10 at intermission, they strung together 11 consecutive tallies in the third stanza, capped by backup guard Magy Thomas’ triple, to mushroom their margin to 25, 39-14. Chillicothe then closed the contest on a 12-3 skein, freshmen Essie Hicks and Lucy Reeter combining for a final deuce Hicks registered with 10 seconds left to push the margin of victory just over 30 points. Reeter’s setup of her classmate was her fourth assist of the fourth frame, giving her the team lead for the game.
Keithley’s blazing start – 12 points in the first 8-1/2 minutes – cooled, but she still ended the game with 20, a personal season-high.
As impressive as Keithley’s scoring was the dominating rebounding of Chillicothe 6’ senior center Kennedie Kieffer. Before being pulled for a rest with just over 90 seconds left in the first quarter, she was on pace to reach double digits in caroms gathered in that opening segment, having already grabbed eight, all but one on the defensive glass.
By halftime, Kieffer already was in twin figures in rebounds with an even 10 on her way to a final total of 13. When she popped in six points in each half, those dozen markers meant she had her most-recent of multiple double-doubles in scoring and rebounding this season.
Perhaps the game’s most-intriguing statistic was that CHS was whistled for only four fouls. No Lady Hornet was called for more than one. Raytown: South was ticketed only eight times itself in the rapidly-played contest.
RSHS’ top scorer was Brianna Garth with six points.