Typical explosive stretches in 65-32 win Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, put 13-3 CHS boys in title game against Maryville Saturday at 1:45 p.m.
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CAMERON, Mo. — Chillicothe (Mo.) HS' 2019-20 basketball Hornets have made a habit of being streaky. Considering they entered Thursday’s (Jan. 30) Cameron Invitational Tournament pool-play game against Lawson with a 12-3 record, there was no good reason for the Hornets to alter their approach, so they didn’t. They just delayed it a bit.
Often this season streaking to a big lead from the outset of a game, the Hornets – likely less than fully-motivated, since they’d whipped the same foe by 35 points just over three weeks earlier – trailed 3-0 and 5-3 in the first 100 seconds and were in front only 8-7 3½ minutes into the contest.
Then, a la the cartoon Roadrunner, they vanished from Lawson’s sight in a puff of smoke.
Beginning with a C.J. Pfaff 3-pointer from the right wing at the 4:26 mark of the first frame, Chillicothe buried the Cardinals under 25-6 avalanche in the final 10-plus minutes of the half en route to another blowout, this one 65-32.
“They had seven points in the first three minutes, maybe,” Tim Cool, CHS head coach, recalled with great clarity during his post-game broadcast interview, “and then, at the half, it was 33-13.
“… That really, kind of, set the tone.”
Chillicothe (13-3) will face Maryville for the tournament’s championship today at about 1:45 p.m. MHS’ Spoofhounds, who the Hornets defeated 67-54 at home Jan. 14, qualified for the title game with a 71-64 win over Smithville Thursday.
Once CHS kicked its game into gear against Lawson, it was clearly a matter of how wide the final margin of difference would be. The answer turned out to be just less than the 35-points spread of the first meeting.
“Defensively, we were really, really good,” Cool saluted his squad. “… Once we made them uncomfortable running their stuff (midway through the first quarter), it changed dramatically.”
Ahead by 20 at intermission, Chillicothe lacked its normal intensity for the first few minutes of the second half, but all Lawson could manage to make of it was a 5-2 advantage over the first 3:10. Then six Westley Brandsgaard points in a row and a C.J. Pfaff free throw ran the lead up above 20, where it remained the rest of the way.
An 11-2 stretch in less than two minutes early in the final period made it a 30-points game and seven points in a row by freshman guard Griff Bonderer in the last 63 seconds put a fitting finish on the proceedings.
Statistically, the Hornets had four twin-figures scorers, paced by Westley Brandsgaard’s 23. Pfaff provided 14 and Hayden Simmer and Bonderer 11 each. For the latter two, it was their second game in a row in netting 10 or more points, a promising development for the Hornets’ long-range hopes for the season.
CHS sizzled at 67 percent (14 of 21) from 2-points distance and added 10 treys in 24 tries. Simmer and Pfaff hit three times each from downtown.
Bonderer and Bradley Riley shared the team lead both in rebounds with seven each and assists with four apiece, according to team statisticians.
“It was a total team ‘thing’ and it’s been that way for a while,” Cool commented happily. “I really like how our guys are playing.”
Lawson’s leading scorer was Grady Blair with nine points.
Hornets junior starting guard Mason Baxter exited during the third period Thursday with a leg injury. After the game, coach Cool said Baxter had been kneed in mid-thigh, intimating he expected to have Baxter available against Maryville.
Following today’s championship clash at Cameron, the CHS boys will entertain Kansas City: St. Pius X in Midland Empire Conference play Tuesday.