Thrash Higginsville 60-19 Tuesday (Jan. 28, 2020) to begin play in Cameron Invitational. Will face Smithville Thursday

CAMERON, Mo. — Chillicothe (Mo.) HS’ basketball Lady Hornets were expected to have things easy Tuesday (Jan. 28, 2020), and they did. It was the first time that was the case this season and certainly figures to be the last time this week.
Having played a remarkably strong schedule throughout the season until Tuesday, the Lady Hornets did not stumble against the first clearly-outclassed opponent they came across, scoring the first five points of their game against Higginsville’s Lady Huskers, 14 of the first 18, and then 25 of the 27 points produced by both sides in the second quarter on their way to a 60-19 cakewalk.
“I really felt like – and the girls felt like – pace was going to play a big key in it,” Darren Smith, Lady Hornets head coach, stated in a post-game broadcast interview, about how his team won, “We wanted to get that pace up and get it going.
“I brought (reserve guards Selby Miller, Haley Kidd, and Lucy Reeter) in (late in the first quarter) and we started pressing just a little bit and I thought we really took off.”
On top 9-4 when Smith inserted that high-energy trio, Chillicothe (10-5) posted 32 of the next 34 points during about an 11-minutes stretch from late in the first stanza to early in the third.
“We play really good in space and really good in pace,” Smith observed. “If we can get those two things going for us, I like what we do.”
Statistically, five of the 11 Chillicothe players who took part scored at least eight points and senior reserve Josie Reeter, getting into the contest only in the accelerated-timing fourth quarter, popped in another five.
Pacing CHS again was Hunter Keithley, who had 16 points even though she made only two baskets. She sank 12 of 14 free throws she earned. The senior wing has scored in double digits seven games in a row after battling illness before Christmas.
While no other Lady Hornets reached dual numerals in points production, sophomore Miller had a career-best nine, starters Jordan Hibner and Brooke Horton eight each, and Jessica Reeter, Josie’s freshman sister, seven.
Higginsville’s top scorer was Lily Wallace with seven points.
With the laugher behind them, the Lady Hornets will have to get very serious again.
On Thursday at 4 p.m., they’ll have a third battle – ironically, all on neutral floors – this season with Smithville’s very fine team. The squads have split the prior two, CHS winning the first by seven at Savannah and Smithville prevailing by three the next time around on North Central Missouri College’s court at Trenton. Chillicothe had a potentially-final possession with a 1-point deficit in the second meeting, but didn’t get well-organized on its intended play and committed a turnover without attempting a shot that might have won the game.
“They’re always a tough team, just because of the (odd) defense they play,” Smith said Tuesday of Smithville.
In CHS’ early-season win, it was employing, full-time, a higher-tempo approach than it is now or was at the time of the contest at Trenton. Smith acknowledged last Saturday he’s somewhat torn between returning to the up-and-down game in an attempt to limit the number of occasions when the Lady Warriors can deploy their troublesome half-court defense in an organized manner or staying with the starting lineup he’s used of late, which doesn’t have quite as much speed.
“We need to be able to have a post presence against them,” he explains, aware of the trouble 6-foot Christina Walsh has given the Lady Hornets around the basket and on the backboards in the first two games. “The first time we didn’t; the second time, Brooke (a 5’11” junior) was just starting to understand what we wanted her to do. So, I feel better about that.”
Regardless of which style or approach he selects, he concedes, “We’re still going to need to shoot the ball well” to have a chance to win.
“I hope it’s close,” he stated, before adding with a grin, “unless we’re way ahead.”

Should Chillicothe's girls get by Smithville Thursday, they'd likely confront top-seeded Maryville in Saturday afternoon's championship game. Maryville walloped CHS 63-39 at Savannah's tourney in December.