After leading by nine twice in first half, CHS boys go on 14-0 third-quarter run after Tigers pulled within two, win 68-52 after MHS Tigerettes shred Lady Hornets' defense 67-52 Tuesday (Dec. 17, 2019)


MACON, Mo. — Chillicothe (Mo.) HS’ basketball Hornets took a third-quarter stand just when it looked like host Macon might post a non-conference, home sweep Tuesday night (Dec. 17, 2019).

With their female counterparts having seen turnovers and failure to control the defensive boards lead to a 67-52 loss in the evening’s opener, the Hornets responded when their nearly-game-long lead had shriveled from nine points in the first half to two a few minutes into the second.

With senior nuclei Westley Brandsgaard and C.J. Pfaff taking care of all the “finishing,” but teammates helping generate their opportunities with tough defense and crisp, smart ball movement, Chillicothe’s boys tallied 14 unanswered points over a third-period stretch of several minutes to establish a 48-32 advantage the Hornets comfortably protected the rest of the way in a 68-52 triumph.

The split left Chillicothe’s boys above .500 for the young season at 3-2 and the girls back at the break-even mark at 3-3. With exquisite scoring distribution, Macon’s girls rose to 5-2 and its boys slipped to 2-4.

Chillicothe’s boys next will take on Kansas City’s Hogan Prep Academy this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at North Central Missouri College’s Ketcham Community Center in Trenton as part of the 15th-annual “High School Holiday Hoops” shootout there. Tipoff time will be around 5:30 p.m.

CHS’ girls get back into action Saturday afternoon at home against Columbia: Hickman during a 1:30 p.m. varsity/junior-varsity doubleheader.

Tuesday’s boys’ game at Macon saw the visiting Hornets trail by a point twice in the opening minutes, but never again after We. Brandsgaard used a fake of a 3-points shot to escape a defender and set up an open deuce for his first seven field goals – in only 10 attempts – of the night. Eventually, the savvy senior would rack up a career-high-equaling 30 points, almost half (14) of them from his 17 free-throw attempts.

The big night sent We. Brandsgaard’s season scoring average from just below to just above 20 points (20.8) per contest.

In only five games, he’s already earned 47 free throw tries, hitting 39. If he were to maintain that pace at his current 83 percent success rate over the course of a routine 25- to 28-games season, he would obliterate Hornets legend Jerry Parrish’s 1959-60 record of 175 made foul shots in a season.

A starter since part-way through his freshman year and having entered his senior year already with 287 successful attempts at the line, We. Brandsgaard already has boosted his career total to 326. That has him only 139 shy of Justin Bland’s CHS career standard. Just as with the single-season mark, continuation at his current pace would have him eclipse that mid-to-late 1990s mark, as well.

After Pfaff’s dozen first-half points helped Chillicothe have 9-points leads in each of the first two periods before the Hornets went to the locker room on top 27-22, three of We. Brandsgaard’s patented, fierce, baseline power drives – one of which became a three-points play – kept the Hornets on top even as Macon mounted a charge behind the shooting of Tanner Lightle.

The third of those baseline drives by the CHS senior made it 36-32, preventing the host Tigers from having possession with a chance to tie or take the lead. When Chillicothe’s defense tightened up, he delivered two long-distance daggers that quickly jumped the CHS lead to a game-best 10, 42-32.

Pfaff followed with a steal and mini-dunk and then a three-points play of his own before a We. Brandsgaard foul shot completed the 14-0 surge that made it 48-32, CHS.

The Hornets protected a double-digits margin the rest of the way to register their first winning streak (two games) of the season.

Statistically in the boys' contest, while his classmate was ringing up 30, senior Pfaff was pairing his own 24 points with team-leading nine rebounds, four assists, two shot blocks, and two steals. He and We. Brandsgaard combined to sink 15 of their 22 shots from the floor and 20 of 24 free throws.

Fellow senior Bradley Riley continued his steady production with eight rebounds and seven points and Mason Baxter matched Pfaff’s two thefts. Sixty percent of CHS’ baskets were set up by teammates’ passes, with all five starters – the fifth being Hayden Simmer – and freshman reserve guard Griff Bonderer earning multiple assists. Riley currently is averaging almost nine points and exactly seven rebounds a game, according to team statisticians.

The Hornets also limited their turnovers to only 11.

Lightle’s third-quarter flurry led to him leading Macon’s scoring with 17 points.

While Macon’s boys had only one twin-figures scorer, the Tigerettes featured a quartet of players with points totals in double digits as Chillicothe’s defense wobbled for a second time in the past three games.

With sophomore Lexi Miller netting a game-high 23 points, junior Katie Hawkins 14, and senior Kate Richardson and junior Tierra Wood 13 apiece, Macon’s girls had the weaponry needed to repel several CHS comeback bids after the home team established a 20-7 lead after one quarter.

The Lady Hornets flurried in the latter half of the second stanza to twice get within six points, only to surrender a putback shot to L. Miller just ahead of the halftime horn that left them down 33-25 at the break.

Jessica Reeter’s left-side, pull-up 15-footer in the middle of the third quarter edged CHS within 39-32, but, as happened several times, Macon surged again with seven unanswered markers to double its margin.

Down 48-35 headed to the last frame, Chillicothe didn’t look likely to put the outcome in real doubt in the remaining time, but before three of those last eight minutes had elapsed, it was closer than it had been since the middle of the first quarter.

A designed play on the opening possession of the fourth quarter saw Je. Reeter’s on-target pass find Hunter Keithley slipping free off a weak-side high screen for a right-side layup.

A possession or two later, Keithley set up senior classmate Jordan Hibner for a 3-points attempt from the left corner. On a night when Hibner was almost perfect beyond the arc, this one missed, but a Macon player fouled her as she came down, sending the Lady Hornet to the charity stripe for three tries. Each was true and the deficit was single digits.

After Macon scored a deuce, Keithley and Je. Reeter worked a give-and-go at the left elbow that Keithley scored on again to bring the gap back to eight with just under six minutes on the clock.

A defensive stop led to Keithley finding Hibner open between the wing and corner on the left side. Again Hibner, rapidly closing in on adding ownership of CHS’ career record for made 3-pointers to her single-game and season collection, was fouled after releasing her shot, but this time her trey try was true. When she swished her free throw, Macon took a timeout with 5:25 still to play and its lead down to four, 50-46.

Whether the timeout was the key factor or whether, as it had done several times before, Macon would have used its diversity to push back against the Chillicothe charge, the Tigerettes got seven points in a row from Richardson as sandwiched a right-wing trey between two pairs of free throws to run the MHS lead back up to 11.

The last two of Hibner’s half-dozen triples on the night surrounded two Hawkins free throws to bring Chillicothe within seven again with more than two minutes to go, but the Lady Hornets – committing a couple of key backcourt turnovers against Macon’s player-to-player press – ran out of bullets. A final spurt of eight consecutive Tigerettes tallies – their fourth string of at least seven points in a row in the contest – completed a 15-points win.

Statistically in the girls' game, Hibner’s six trifectas and four free throws without a miss left her with a team-high 22 points. Her downtown deliveries came up one shy of matching the single-game record she set against Marshall early last year and rocketed her career total to 128. She’s now only five shy of breaking Hannah Jones’ CHS career mark, so she’s in range in any game now.

Keithley joined Hibner in twin-numbers scoring Tuesday, netting 10 points.

Major components in the Lady Hornets’ struggles were another poor game of preventing opponents from securing offensive rebounds and poor ball security.

Unofficially, Macon had at least 15 snares of its own misfires and got at least seven second-chance points off of those through the first three quarters.

In addition, Chillicothe unofficially had about 20 turnovers, both against MHS presses and in the half-court offense. A number of those giveaways were immediately cashed in for transition points by the Tigerettes.