Senior Kieffer, juniors Keithley, Brandsgaard, Pfaff receive top citation by league coaches. Hibner, Baxter given honorable mention. Keithley, Brandsgaard repeat picks
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
In unsurprising recognition, four members of Chillicothe High School’s 2018-19 basketball Hornets and Lady Hornets have been voted by league coaches to the Midland Empire Conference’s all-MEC teams, it was announced March 12.
Lady Hornets senior center Kennedie Kieffer is joined by three CHS juniors – teammate Hunter Keithley and Hornets Westley Brandsgaard and C.J. Pfaff – on the league’s elite teams for the recently-concluded season.
In addition to that quartet, one CHS non-senior of each gender – junior Jordan Hibner of the Lady Hornets and sophomore Mason Baxter of the Hornets – received honorable mention (meaning they received votes) from MEC’s head coaches in the balloting done, according to CHS boys’ head coach Tim Cool, this past Monday.
The top ten votegetters of each gender gain all-conference status, with all others who had some votes cited in the “honorable mention” category. Girls’ team oaches voted on the girls’ all-MEC team and, correspondingly, boys’ team coaches on theirs with coaches prohibited from voting for anyone from their own club.
While the inclusion of Brandsgaard, Keithley, Pfaff, and Kieffers were fully anticipated, it was a bit surprising that only one player – Maryville 6’1” sophomore guard Serena Sundell – was an unanimous pick, according to the list released by league secretary Greg Kasner.
Other girls’ first-team choices include conference champion St. Joseph: Benton’s Mia Henderson, Jayde Williams, and Bailey Russell, runnerup Kansas City: St. Pius X’s Alaina Mallott and Olivia Ervie, Gracie Stites of Savannah, and Sydney Nichols of Cameron.
The boys’ first-team group had two members of St. Joseph: Lafayette, like Benton’s girls the repeat MEC champ – Ike Book and Kolten Griffin, but three of the runnerup Maryville Spoofhounds – Eli Dowis, Tate Oglesby, and Tyler Houchin. Capping the squad were Kyle Taylor of league newcomer St. Pius X, Braden Berry of Savannah, and Chol Ater of Benton.
Gaining honorable mention among the boys, in addition to Baxter, were two members each of St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond and Lafayette and St. Piux X, and one apiece from Benton, Maryville, Cameron, and Savannah.
For the girls, the honorable mention list beyond Hibner included two Maryville and Bishop LeBlond players apiece and one each from Cameron, Lafayette, Benton, and St. Pius X.
The 6’ Kieffer and 5’10” Keithley, both second-year starters and 3-years letter-winners, helped carry Chillicothe’s girls to a 5-2 record and third-place finish in the MEC this season. Keithley was an all-MEC first-team choice last year, as well, while Kieffer had honorable mention.
Kieffer had multiple double-doubles in points and rebounds the first half of the season and finished with averages of 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds a game, according to statistics posted online by Lady Hornets head coach Darren Smith.
Keithley repeats after netting a team-topping 11.8 points and 4.2 assists a contest as the CHS girls went 20-8 overall.
Chillicothe’s boys, forced to rely almost exclusively on their junior tandem for offense all season – in one MEC game, a win at St. Joseph: Benton, they did all of the CHS scoring, tied for fourth in the league with Savannah, going 3-4.
Repeat all-MEC first-teamer Brandsgaard led the Hornets in scoring average at 18.2 points per game. The 6’3” 11th grader also pulled down an average of 5.9 rebounds.
Pfaff, a first-year starter, exploited his lanky, 6’4” height, wide wingspan, and court “sense” to be an all-around weapon for the Hornets as they went 14-11 overall.
He scored at a 16.4 points per game clip with a mixture of long-range shooting, driving, and offensive rebounding. Despite his slender frame and playing point guard, he paced the Hornets in rebounds at 7.8 a night, including several scoring-rebounding double-doubles.
He also led CHS in assists and steals, both at around three per game.
Hibner broke both the single-game and single-season CHS girls’ records for 3-points baskets and positioned herself to likely become the career record-holder next season.
She broke Amber Parker’s 15-years-old record of six “3s” in a game when her seven trifectas led the way to a 62-48 Dec. 17 home win over a previously-unbeaten Marshall team which would lose only two more times the rest of the season.
Then, in the final quarter of this season’s final game, she hit two treys to supplant former 2-times All-Stater Richelle Barrett as the season record-holder for 3-pointers, finishing with 71, one more than Barrett had in 1994-95. Even with a bit of a late-season slump, her accuracy from long distance was an excellent 43 percent, as was Keithley’s 42 percent.
This season’s record total, added to the 42 Hibner had as a sophomore, give her 113 going into her senior campaign. That is the second-most in Lady Hornets history and only 19 shy of Hannah Jones’ record set during her 4-years varsity career from 2013-14 through 2016-17.
A bit of a shooting slump down the home stretch of the season left her with a scoring average just under double figures at 9.2 points a game. She also averaged 1.2 steals.
Baxter, bitten by the injury bug a couple of times during the season, played in only 19 of the team’s 25 overall games, but was involved in most or all of the MEC outings.
Although a very effective shooter (64 percent) from inside the arc and leading the team in raw, overall field-goal shooting percentage (49 percent), he didn’t shoot that often, making most of his impact as a defender and, despite his 5’9” height, rebounder. He pulled down an average of three boards a game and was third on the team in steals.