Quartet of Chillicotheans named to media group's 2018-19 northwest Missouri elite squads among 18 honorees from C-T coverage-area schools. Juniors Mack Anderson of Southwest Livingston, Nora Ford of Hamilton, and Jasmine Taylor Braymer third-time picks
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
Eighteen 2018-19 high school basketball players from schools covered regularly by the Constitution-Tribune – four of them from Chillicothe High School – are included on the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association’s (MSSA) all-northwest district teams for the just-past season, it was announced by district media members this morning.
Honored by regional media on the association’s one-tier squads for their respective classifications and genders are, in Class 3, Chillicothe juniors C.J. Pfaff, Hunter Keithley, and Westley Brandsgaard and senior Kennedie Kieffer; in Class 2, Hamilton: Penney’s Nora Ford, Graycen Prothero, and Ryan Cook and Polo’s Jared Robison; and, in Class 1, Southwest Livingston’s Wyatt Maddux and Mack Anderson, Tina-Avalon’s Hannah Colliver, Braymer’s Jasmine Taylor, Jamesport: Tri-County’s Jadan Almond, Mendon: Northwestern’s Kelsie Speichinger, Jaden Humphrey, and Wade Adams, Norborne’s Kennadie Crowe, and Hardin-Central’s Carly Thacker.
The MSSA’s northwest district effectively stretches west to the Kansas line and north to the Iowa line from Livingston County.
Several schools whose teams are covered by the C-T – Meadville, Linn County, Keytesville, and Brunswick – are included in other MSSA districts (northeast and central), due to their geography and conference membership. Those districts’ all-district teams have not yet been announced. Any area selections will be reported when they are made.
Chillicothe’s trio of junior honorees and lone senior led both of their respective squads to winning seasons – the Lady Hornets going 20-8 and the Hornets 14-11. For both programs, it was a sixth above-.500 year in a row.
Two of the CHS honorees – Kieffer and Pfaff – had multiple scoring-rebounding “double-doubles” in 2018-19 and ended the season with twin-digits scoring averages and boardwork averages around the eight-per-night level.
The 6’ Kieffer, who on Monday (see accompanying photo) signed to accept a basketball scholarship with North Central Missouri College’s Lady Pirates for the 2019-20 school year, scored at a 10.5 points per game clip, shooting 63 percent from the floor and a respectable 59 percent from the free-throw line. She also averaged 8.1 rebounds a night, leading to her selection as not only a MSSA all-district player, but also Missouri Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA) all-district (chosen, for season-long performance, from among the teams included in the District 14 Tournament at Higginsville) and first-team all-Midland Empire Conference (MEC).
Pfaff, a 6’4” point guard for the Hornets, fired in an average of 16.4 points per contest, while leading the squad in rebounding (7.8), assists (3.3), and steals (3.0) averages to boot. Like Kieffer, Keithley, and teammate Brandsgaard, he was chosen MBCA all-district and first-team all-MEC, in addition to this new honor.
Brandsgaard, a 6’3” wing guard/forward, led Chillicothe’s boys in scoring (18.2 ppg) for a second season in a row and reached the 1,000 points mark for his career in the regular-season finale. He pulled down almost six caroms a game and matched his high freshman-season success rate at the free throw line with 73 percent conversion, although he could not sustain the scorching 82 percent rate he had a season ago.
Keithley, a 5’10” wing guard/forward, was the Lady Hornets’ leading scorer at 11.8 points a game, but also led them in assists, averaging 4.3. Also a deadly free-throw shooter like Brandsgaard, she buried 80 percent of her 96 attempts, while also connecting at a sharp 42 percent clip from 3-points land.
From outside Chillicothe, Carroll-Livingston Activitity Association most valuable players Mack Anderson of Southwest Livingston and Kennadie Crowe of Norborne repeated their MSSA all-district laurels of a season ago, as did Anderson’s teammate Maddux, Braymer’s Taylor, Hamilton’s Ford, and Northwestern’s dynamic senior boys duo of Adams and Humphrey.
For 6’6” junior Anderson, 5’9” junior Taylor, and 5’6” junior Ford, this is their third-consecutive year in being on the media organization’s all-district squads.
Anderson not only averaged a scoring (22 ppg) and rebounding (15 rpg) “double-double” for the second season in succession, but also posted per-game marks of five assists,, four shot blocks, and two steals, according to head coach Eric Fairchild. He was the repeat choice CLAA boys’ MVP.
Ford earned her third all-district nod with averages of 20.6 points, 3.9 steals, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game for the 16-7 Penney Lady Hornets. She unanimously was first-team in the all-KCI Conference voting
Taylor, a 5’9” thoroughbred, mimicked Anderson’s “double-double” average by dropping in 18.4 points and corralling 10.6 caroms a night for the 9-15 BHS Lady ’Cats. An unanimous all-Grand River Conference-West Division selection by league coaches, she also was MBCA all-district.
Southwest Livington senior 6-footer Maddux averaged 19 points, nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals for the 19-3 Wildcats, also gaining MBCA all-district and all-CLAA first-team status.
Tina-Avalon 5’9” senior forward Colliver, another all-CLAA first-teamer and MBCA all-district honoree, approached
“double-double” territory from her post position. She hit for an average of 13.4 points a game and ripped down 8.5 boards on average for the Class 1 district-champion, 17-5 Lady Dragons. She also blocked 2.5 shots a contest and surpassed the century mark in that statistical category for her career, according to TAHS head coach Dana Hansen.
Colliver would have formed quite a formidable tandem with junior Crowe this past season, had the latter not transferred to Norborne prior to the 2017-18 school year after being at T-A as a freshman.
This past season, Crowe led NHS’ Lady Pirates to an undefeated CLAA championship and 20-3 overall record. The 5’8” league MVP averaged 18.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists, reports coach Ken Brown. Likewise a MBCA all-district choice, she figures to draw consideration for repeat MBCA All-State status.
Hamilton’s other two MSSA all-district selections, like Ford, were first-team all-KCI choices, too.
Junior Cook, a 6’2” forward, netted 15.2 points per game, grbbed 5.5 rebounds, earned 1.4 steals, and handed out just over one assist on average, coach Justin Joiner reports. Also MBCA all-district, he could score from close, mid-, or long range, connecting on 51 percent of his overall attempts and 35 percent of his 3-points tries.
Prothero, another junior, succeeds older sister McKauley in the MSSA’s district elite ranks. The 5’5” guard scored 11.4 points, made 1.7 steals, and secured 3.3 rebounds a contest for coach Jordan Richman.
One of the area’s best stories of the 2018-19 season was the return to not only respectability, but significant success of Jamesport’s Tri-County Lady Mustangs.
Coach Jeremy Slaughter’s 16-9 team took second place in the Harrison-Daviess Conference with contributions from many players who were used extensively.
Most consistently impactful and productive among those many was 5’3” senior Almond, even though she had to battle through an injury late in the season, Slaughter reports.
Her final scoring average of 11.9 points fell by over a point after her injury, he notes, while her steals average slipped from 4.0 to 3.4. After making over 100 steals a year ago, she was right on that pace before getting hurt, her coach relates. Unanimous all-HDC, and MBCA all-district, too, she leaves the program in winning territory after the Lady Mustangs had been a composite 3-103 from 2012-13 through her sophomore year.
Northwestern’s three 12th grade honorees concluded highly-successful careers this season with first-team all-CLAA, MBCA all-district, and now MSSA all-district laurels.
Twin terrors Humphrey and Adams not only were similar performers in their size and multiple skills, but had final statistical averages that were close to each other’s. The 5’10” Adams scored at a 19.5 points clip (on 59 percent shooting accuracy), while adding four steals, 4.5 assists, and 3.1 rebounds, reports coach Michael Kahn. Humphrey. an even six feet, popped in 19.1 points a night (on 60 percent field-goal and 81 percent free-throw shooting), while snaring 8.1 rebounds, dishing out three assists, blocking 2.5 shots, and making two steals.
The similarities in their numbers this past season is nothing new. Adams finished his career at the Mendon school with 1,400-plus points and Humphrey with 1,300-plus. Adams was second in the all-CLAA balloting each of the past two seasons with Humphrey third this year and fourth as a junior.
Speichinger, the Lady Eagles’ 5’5” point guard, ripped the cords for 21.7 points per contest this season. Add in her 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 steals, and 3.2 assists per outing and it’s easy to understand why she was third in the all-CLAA girls’ balloting behind Crowe and HCHS’ Thacker. Just like Adams and Humphrey, she was an outstanding performer for multiple seasons and ended her Northwestern career with more than 1,400 points scored.
Hardin-Central’s 5’11” Thacker scored at a rate of 19 points a contest as the Lady Bulldogs went 15-9 this season. She also pulled down six rebounds, made 3.2 steals, handed out three assists, and blocked a shot a game, coach Ken Layman reports. She was MBCA all-district, as well.