Savannah holds off two CHS charges after early 17-2 run gave Savages 19-5 second-period lead in first-round game in own 91st-annual tournament Monday (Dec. 2)

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
SAVANNAH, Mo. – Despite repeated climbs, the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS basketball Hornets never could manage to get back to level ground in their 2019-20 season opener Monday night (Dec. 2), falling to the Savannah Savages 46-41 in a pool-play first-round contest in the 7-teams Savannah Invitational Tournament.
Having clawed back into contention from an icy 19-5 hole in the game’s first 10:35, only to back behind by double digits after three periods, the Hornets rode 8-consecutive C.J. Pfaff points to a 12-3 burst in the first 4:15 of the fourth quarter to trail the host Savannah Savages by a point.
However, just as it seemed they’d caught and passed the Savages on a patented Westley Brandsgaard baseline power-drive deuce, an official’s whistle negated the shot, due to the Hornet having stepped on the out-of-bounds line prior to the shot.
That by-inches miscue proved to be a tap-closing point as Chillicothe, which made only 28 percent of its field-goal attempts, did not score another point in the last 3:44 and Savannah closed out its win.
The Hornets will have to defeat Platte County in a Thursday 4 p.m. game to have any chance of emerging as the pool’s representative in Saturday’s championship game of the 91st-annual tournament. A loss tomorrow automatically would relegate them to the boys’ consolation game Friday at 6 p.m.
Even with turning the ball over the first three times they owned it – including an over-and-back infraction two seconds into the season opener, the CHS boys got a 3-pointer from Pfaff in response to Savannah’s opening deuce and led 3-2 after 1:34. They would not be in front again.
Savannah reeled off the next nine markers – not quickly – and 17 of the next 19 to lead by 14 about 2-1/2 minutes into the second period. Twice Chillicothe narrowed the gap to a single tally – including once before halftime, but the Savages never were caught.
The Hornets’ 13-0 second-period surge, capped by Pfaff’s second fast-break dunk of the half, took less than three minutes to produce, but, when they only netted 28 points in the other 29 minutes, it was relegated to footnote status.
After Savannah reestablished a sizable (28-20) halftime lead with a 9-2 finish to the first half, it eased out to a 10-points margin to begin the final period before CHS mounted another, ultimately-final charge.
Pfaff’s 3-points play after snaring a teammate’s air ball, transition layup, and right-wing trey as a trailer in transition slashed the deficit to 39-37 with 5:17 remaining.
Bradley Riley then countered the third of Blayne Nelson’s four treys with a left-side lay-in and two free throws in the bonus situation to put CHS within one. However, after We. Brandsgaard’s would-be go-ahead play was waved off about a half-minute later, the Hornets proved to be out of bullets.
Statistically, Pfaff’s 19 points led all scorers. Joining him in double figures for the Hornets was fellow senior We. Brandsgaard with with 12. Riley tacked on eight, along with a team-high 11 rebounds – five on the offensive end, but the other four Hornets who played combined for only two tallies.
While only four Hornets scored, Savannah, also playing its season opener, got double-digits production four sources. Nelson led with 12 points from his four triples. Quay Jeter tallied 11 markers and Chase Spoonemore and Kobe Montgomery 10 each.
Chillicothe’s shooting eye was way off all over the floor. Sinking merely nine of 23 attempts inside the arc, they were a far-worse four of 23 on 3-points tries.