Spurts in each half key 75-66 victory over host Camdenton in 2020 Laker Shootout Saturday (Jan. 25)

CAMDENTON, Mo. — Near the shores of Missouri’s renowned Lake of the Ozarks, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS’ basketball Hornets tried to leave the Camdenton Lakers in their wake with a 17-2 surge that left the Hornets on top 24-12 midway through the second period of their “Laker Shootout” clash early Saturday evening.
When that didn’t take, Chillicothe kept its poise and lead until it could unreel another of its signature spurts – this one a 12-2 run – in the middle of the third stanza. Ahead by 12 again, 44-32, when that one faded into an exchange of baskets and points the rest of the period, the Hornets preserved at least a 3-possessions lead the rest of the way, claiming their 11th triumph in 14 games in 2019-20 by a 75-66 count.
Behind a 3-pronged senior salvo, led by C.J. Pfaff’s career-high-matching 28 points, the Hornets had their largest offensive output of the season to date. They erased the prior high reached in their most-recent previous game, a 70-53 verdict at Marshall Jan. 16.
Also supplying a key ingredient in the game was Chillicothe’s shortest starter, 5’9” junior Mason Baxter, who ripped down nine rebounds and handed out a team-best five assists.
Winners of six in a row, the Hornets head into this coming week’s Cameron Invitational Tournament, in which they are the No. 1 seed. They’ll face Higginsville in the first of their two “pool-play” games Monday at 6:30 p.m., followed on Thursday 5:15 p.m. with a rematch with Lawson, already a 60-25 victim of Chillicothe’s earlier this month.
Saturday’s game at Camdenton was a rematch of last year’s “Lakers Shootout” game for Chillicothe and it capitalized on the opportunity to avenge the 5-points loss they sustained, with an abbreviated roster, last February. Delayed a week because of bad weather, the Hornets fell to the Lakers less than 24 hours after a tough, unique win at St. Joseph: Benton in which Pfaff and fellow senior Westley Brandsgaard did all of the Hornets’ scoring.
Fresher this time, that nucleus was in top form this time around with We. Brandsgaard adding 20 tallies to Pfaff’s 28, a total the 6’4” senior guard had reached early last season against Trenton.
Not only did those two seniors combine for 48 markers – about 10 over their combined averages, but CHS’ third senior starter, Bradley Riley, delivered 14 short-range points, as well. Set up by teammates’ passes multiple times, he had 10 of those in the last 10 minutes to offset Camdenton’s accelerated scoring rate; the Lakers scored more than half (34) of their points in the final 10-1/2 minutes, but could get no closer than 71-64 with about 40 seconds left.
Behind 10-7 about the mid-point of the opening period, Chillicothe found its stride at both ends of the court for the first time on the evening.
A basket each by Pfaff and We. Brandsgaard and the latter’s free throw gave Chillicothe a lead it would sustain the rest of the way and a 12-10 margin going to the second segment. After Pfaff – who double-doubled with 12 rebounds and also had three assists, three steals, and three shot blocks, according to team-kept stats – began the next quarter with the first of his four triples (in only seven attempts) in the game, a quick Camdenton deuce was followed by another string of Chillicothe tallies.
Pfaff drove to score, then set up Riley for a lay-in in transition. We. Brandsgaard then worked past multiple defenders on the Camdenton press to get to the rim for a lay-in, before, on the next possession, putting back his own miss underneath while being fouled. When he completed the three-points play, Chillicothe had netted nine unanswered markers and had the Lakers doubled, 24-12.
The hosts soon matched that 9-0 run to be within three and a converted steal had them within 26-25 with a minute and change left in the opening half. However, freshman reserve guard Griff Bonderer coolly rose up and buried a mid-range jumper from the right side off classmate Wyatt Brandsgaard’s pass and Pfaff drained two free throws – he went six for six at the stripe on the night – to make it a 30-25 game , the Hornets’ way, at intermission.
A Camdenton trey in the early moments of the second half made it a 2-points game before the squads exchanged 2s.
At the 6:40 mark of the third period, We. Brandsgaard, who dealt with mild foul trouble much of the game before fouling out late, drove the right baseline to score, igniting the decisive Chillicothe charge.
Pfaff got to the basket in transition and Riley, using a spin move from the left block, also dropped in a short shot as the Hornets beat the full-court defensive pressure Camdenton applied at times. In response to a pair of Lakers free throws, Pfaff found the range from beyond the arc on the left side off a We. Brandsgaard pass, then was all alone again to the left of the key after Baxter twice hustled to snare offensive rebounds, the second of which he fed out to Pfaff for another trifecta.
Ahead again by 12, Chillicothe largely kept the spread in dual digits the rest of the way, twice getting it up to 15 in the first few minutes of the last quarter.
Statistically, Chillicothe’s prolific scoring owed itself to the creation of many in-close shots – a number of them effectively undefended as the Hornets broke the Camdenton press, but also saw very good mid- and long-range shooting.
According to team stats, neither Riley (seven for seven) nor Pfaff (five for five) missed from 2-points distance. Stir in 5-of-9 work beyond the arc by Pfaff and We. Brandsgaard and Chillicothe exited the floor having shot 68 percent overall (26 of 38), including 75 percent (21 of 28) inside the arc. Tack on outstanding 18-of-23 team success at the foul line and the Hornets' season high in points follows naturally.
Camdenton (3-10) was led in scoring by 6’5” Paxton deLaurent’s 22 points, but it had only one other player in twin figures – Drake Miller with 13.