Seize early advantage in rare Saturday afternoon (Dec. 21, 2019) home game, lead by double digits last 20 minutes of 57-41 victory

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Again bouncing back from a subpar showing with a strong one, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS’ basketball Lady Hornets benefitted from some early Columbia: Hickman point-blank misfires to get an early advantage and then, sorting out some defensive details, established and sustained complete control the final three quarters Saturday afternoon (Dec. 21, 2019) as they handled the Hickman Lady Kewpies from Columbia, 57-41.
“It’s a good win for us,” Darren Smith, Chillicothe head coach, commented, in a post-game broadcast interview, on defeating a school with more than three times as many students.
“I felt like we really came out understanding what the game was going to be like,” he expounded. “Any time you play a big school like that, they’re going to play good defense, they’re going to hustle – they’re going to work hard, and they’re going to be a little bit physical.
“I felt like we took care of all three of those facets of the game. I thought, especially in the first half, defensively, we were pretty good (at) limiting what we gave them.”
The victory pushed Chillicothe back above .500 for the season at 4-3. Hickman dipped to 2-4.
Lady Hornets youngsters Jessica Reeter and Essie Hicks got the team off to a 7-2 lead in the first three minutes, including Je. Reeter’s right-wing trey on the contest’s opening possession to give CHS a lead it would not give back.
When Hickman missed several open shots within a couple of feet of the rim in the first 5-6 minutes, the Lady Hornets continued to expand their margin. Six minutes in, it was up to 11-4 before the opening stanza ended with a 13-8 advantage for the home team.
The Columbia club narrowed the gap to four a couple of minutes into the second quarter, but a 10-0 Lady Hornets surge created a double-figures spread which remained the rest of the way.
The tone-setting run began with a short-range Brooke Horton bucket from the right side after she made an excellent catch at the block of Je. Reeter’s pass from the right wing.
It was followed by Jordan Hibner’s defensive-end steal and breakaway layup, Hunter Keithley’s finish on a give-and-go with Horton, Ella Leamer’s free throw, and Keithley’s step-back triple from quarter-court on the left side to close the opening half with a 25-11 lead.
“I thought Brooke Horton played well inside,” Smith praised justifiably after the 11th grader provided six points, three rebounds, and an assist.
Later in the game, the 5’11” junior provided one of the game’s highlight plays. With Hickman going to a full-court press to try to cut into the big CHS lead, an unguarded Horton took a backcourt pass about eight feet shy of the time line. Rather than be satisfied with easily advancing the ball to the forecourt and then waiting to give it back to a regular out-court ballhandler, Horton charged toward the distant lone defender between herself and the CHS basket. When the Lady Kewpie stayed close to the basket, the Chillicothe player took the ball right at her, finally faking a move into the center of the lane before stepping back to her left to get a short shot off the glass and in.
The game’s widest margin came twice in the third quarter, first when Hibner swished a 3-pointer that capped a 7-0 mini-run for a 38-20 lead and, after Hickman matched that, on Lucy Reeter’s triple.
Next on the varsity Lady Hornets’ slate is their lone outing in the “High School Holiday Hoops” shootout at North Central Missouri College in Trenton. That will come against Smithville next Friday at about 4 p.m. Chillicothe’s varsity topped Smithville 56-49 in the Savannah Invitational Tournament to start the month.
Statistically Saturday, it was a big night for Keithley, who, Smith noted before the game, was among a few team members who have not been feeling well of late. Displaying more spring in her step than had been seen of late, the versatile senior fired a personal season-best 20 points, including two 3-pointers, while also unofficially leading the team in rebounds with six and assists with four.
Hickman’s top scorer was Detriann’a Jamison with 14 points. Freshman Jocelyn Norman tacked on 11.
In the junior-varsity contest, Chillicothe prevailed 40-30 with freshman Cali Burkhardt leading a nicely-distributed offense with nine points.
The JV Lady Hornets will have their own “fill-in” chance to experience the “Holiday Hoops” atmosphere next Friday when they serve as the opponent for Class 1 Mercer in an 8:30 p.m. contest. Some CHS players, such as Ella and Clara Leamer and Elli Barnett, are expected to see action in both the earlier game against Smithville and later contest, as well, Smith and assistant/JV coach Terry McKiddy confirmed Saturday.