(Updated w/ news of date switch for next game, additional photo)
CHS freshman point guard Jessica Reeter rips cords from outside arc five times in second quarter, six times in first half, team makes 10 in opening half of 56-39 home victory Jan. 7, 2020

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — With a slow-paced, half-court-style game not generating the early success he’d hoped, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS basketball Lady Hornets head coach Darren Smith turned to his fire brigade to crank up the heat against the visiting Lawson Lady Cardinals Tuesday (Jan. 7, 2020).

He probably couldn’t have guessed how many trifecta-fueled BTUs his team was going to generate the rest of the first half en route to a deceptively-close 56-39 CHS non-conference victory.

in the first 5:20, with the Chillicothe defense concentrating on preventing strong LHS inside players Laken Manns and Natalie Schnetzler from doing as much scoring damage as they did in Lawson’s 56-47 win at home last year, Lady Cardinals junior guard Ellie Smith drained three open 3-pointers – one from each side and one from out front, giving her team an 11-7 lead.

At the next stoppage in play, the Chillicothe coach replaced his starting five with a new quintet with one responsibility – play fast.

Even without one of its normal members – sophomore Lucy Reeter was out with a stomach illness, according to D. Smith, that smaller, quicker group – Selby Miller, Clara Leamer, Ellie Barnett, Ella Leamer, and Haley Kidd – could hardly have carried out its mission more effectively.

Suddenly, defensively pressuring Lawson players on the perimeter, the CHS reserves forced quicker, tougher passing and player movement decisions, sparking multiple mistakes that derailed the Lawson attack.

At the other end, in transition after a pair of missed Lawson free throws, Kidd quickly triggered from the right corner off a Miller pass for a 3-pointer that changed an 11-9 deficit to a 12-11 Lady Hornets advantage inside the last 50 seconds of the opening stanza. Chillicothe (5-4) would have Lawson in its rearview mirror – soon growing smaller and smaller by the second – the rest of the night.

In front by that 12-11 margin, thanks to its second trey of the day, as the second quarter began, CHS was just heating up. Before the Lady Hornets cooled, they’d torched any chance Lawson (7-4) of repeating its January 2019 win over them.

Returning four of his starters to the floor to join Kidd to begin the second quarter, the Chillicothe coach provided different marching orders than at game’s start. This time, it was make it a full-court, not half-court contest, through a press and persistent pushing the ball upcourt when it got possession.

What resulted was, virtually certainly, an unofficial team-record display of deadeye long-distance shooting.

Inside the first minute of the second quarter, freshman point guard Jessica Reeter converted Kidd’s pass into a left-corner triple. The newly-deployed full-court press immediately caused a steal and, 25 seconds after Je. Reeter’s shot, Kidd found Hunter Keithley unguarded on the left side for another triple. With a string of 11 consecutive tallies in 3:45, Chillicothe had converted the 11-7 deficit into an 18-11 advantage.

And that was only the first stage of the multi-stage rocket it was riding.

A Lawson inside basket was trumped by another Je. Reeter triple and four Essie Hicks points – all in a 33-seconds span – for a 25-13 gap.

Then, responding to another short-range LHS deuce, Je. Reeter drilled another downtown shot from the left corner, Miller found the twine from deep on the right wing in transition, and – yet again – Je. Reeter finished off a nifty out-in-out passing sequence with Miller with a right-side trey. Her fourth 3-pointer of the opening half – she’d begun the game’s scoring with a long-ranger from the top of the key in the first 20 seconds – and the team’s eighth meant  Chillicothe had posted 27 of the last 31 points in the eight minutes since E. Smith’s third early trifecta and led 34-15.

And, with more than 2½ minutes still left in the first half, neither Je. Reeter nor Chillicothe was ready to cool off.

Lawson’s offense flickered very briefly, hitting a free throw and then, collecting the rebound of the missed second try, connecting on a triple a few seconds later, but the Lady Hornets were unfazed.

On their next possession, Je. Reeter set up Keithley for a trey from 21 feet to the left of the key before, with just over 10 seconds remaining in the half, the frosh picked up her dribble at the left of the key and swished her fifth trey of the quarter and sixth of the half to open a 40-19 chasm at halftime.

That final shot was CHS’ eighth successful 3-pointer of the second quarter – presumably the most ever by a Lady Hornets team in one quarter, although no such official record likely exists – and its 10th of the opening half, also probably the most ever in one half.

Statistically, although only one bomb shy of teammate Jordan Hibner’s single-game CHS record with still another half to play, with no reason to push the matter as her team maintained its lead around 20 points, Je. Reeter attempted only one or two deep shots the rest of the night and finished with those six 3s (unofficially in only nine attempts) and a game-high 20 points.

As if that wasn’t enough, however, the ninth grader also unofficially led the Lady Hornets with four rebounds and shared the team lead (with Miller and Keithley) in assists with four.

As a team, Chillicothe netted 12 shots from beyond the arc while misfiring only five times. By contrast, it sank only four of 10 free throws and scored only eight 2-points baskets.

Bouncing back from a scoreless outing against Smithville in the preceding CHS contest, Keithley tallied 13 points, 10 in the big first half. Unofficially, she missed only one of six shots she took from the floor.

Following her fast start, E. Smith added only a fourth-quarter bucket in the final 29-plus minutes, but led Lawson with 11 points. Manns and Schnetzler were limited to a combined 12 after each had 10 a season ago.

Looking ahead, next for the Chillicothe girls is their now-adjusted Midland Empire Conference opener at home against St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond.

Originally slated for this Friday, Jan. 10, it has been shifted to this Thursday (1/9), beginning with a 5:30 p.m. JV game.

The change was prompted by a Friday weather forecast of dropping temperatures to well below freezing, along with rain changing to snow.

Because of the travel safety concern, the proactive shift ahead 24 hours is aimed to lessen the chances of an end-of-season glut of games a potential "day of" postponement could have helped create, Chillicothe director of athletics Dan Nagel confirms.

As Class 3 (Chillicothe) and 2 (LeBlond) schools for basketball, they have one less week of regular-season play than do Class 4 and 5 schools and thus fewer potential dates available to re-slot postponed Midland Empire Conference games.

The adjustment in the girls' schedule means both the CHS and LeBlond boys and girls will square off on Thursday night. The boys' clubs already were due to meet at St. Joseph.