Defense, ball movement sets up hot-shooting 64-17 win over Lexington Monday

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — With tough defense providing plenty of quick offensive opportunities that kept the offense in rhythm, the top-seeded Chillicothe (Mo.) HS basketball Lady Hornets soared into the Class 3 District 14 semifinals with a 64-17 shredding of the Lexington Minutewomen in the CHS gym Monday (Feb. 24, 2020).

Their defense keeping Lexington off the scoreboard until the 3:28 mark of the second quarter, the Lady Hornets (18-7) led 25-0 after one quarter and 31-0 before the Minutewomen (1-25) got on the board.

In front a very comfortable 34-11 at halftime, top-seeded CHS was even more dominant after intermission, outscoring their overmatched foe 35-6 the rest of the way.

With the romp, Chillicothe moves on to Wednesday’s 5:30 p.m. semifinal game against fourth-seeded Carrollton (17-8), a 52-31 winner over Higginsville in the second of Monday’s four quarterfinal games.

Wednesday’s later semifinal game will have second-seeded Trenton facing No. 3 Brookfield.

The boys’ quarterfinals will be Tuesday, starting at 4:30 p.m. with the top-seeded host Hornets facing Trenton. In order, the subsequent boys' quarterfinal games will be Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran vs. Brookfield, second-seeded Richmond against Lexington, and Higginsville vs. Carrollton.

Monday’s Chillicothe triumph featured nearly all of the Lady Hornets’ field goals set up teammates’ passes. Unofficially, 23 of the 25 buckets – 15 from 2-points range and 10 from beyond the 3-points line – were accompanied by assists. Senior Hunter Keithley’s unofficial half-dozen helpers and freshman Jessica Reeter’s handful led the ball distribution effort, which saw nine different Lady Hornets involved – four of them with at least three.

At the finishing end of the scoring equation, Keithley, who sent past the 1,000-points mark for her career a couple of games earlier, also was out front. She netted a game-best 18 points, 11 of them in the opening-quarter onslaught. She hit a pair of 3-pointers, as well as completing a three-points play and a fast-break layup in the first eight minutes.

For good measure, she unofficially added four rebounds and multiple steals to her evening’s effort.

Jordan Hibner joined Keithley in sinking three treys each for Chillicothe. Hibner’s raised her season total to 65, now only six less than her team single-season record of 71 set last year.

Joining Keithley in double-digits scoring was junior center Brooke Horton with 10. Of the 15 players CHS dressed out and used, 10 got involved in the scoring with all five starters netting at least eight points. In addition to the nine Lady Hornets credited with assists, 13 of the 15 grabbed at least one rebound. CHS unofficially out-boarded LHS 32-9.

Lexington was led in scoring by Emily Marshall’s nine points.

Chillicothe’s Wednesday opponent pulled away from its Monday foe in the second half.

Carrollton, coached by former Norborne girls’ coach Michael Lock, began to seize control in the second quarter, outscoring Higginsville 15-9 to lead 23-17 at halftime. Repeating that in the third stanza left the Lady Trojans with a 12-points margin 37-25, going to the last quarter, which they largely owned.

Mackenzie Brown, a 5’4” senior guard, scored steadily through the game for Carrollton, finishing with a game-high 17 points. Close behind was 5’5” Raegan Pierson with 15, all on treys. Adding another 12 was 5’7” junior Jordan Myler.

In Monday’s other games, Trenton fought off determined Richmond 43-32 and Brookfield bounced past Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran 48-41.

THS’ second-seeded Lady Bulldogs (14-11), guided by Kameron Cool, son of Chillicothe boys’ head coach Tim Cool, were led by junior forward Maci Moore’s 27 markers – 16 in the third quarter and 20 in the second half.

Richmond, coached by former Chillicothe boys’ head coach Chad Snyder, had 14 from Ava Murphy.

Chillicothe alum and former long-time Meadville girls’ head coach Tony Fairchild saw his team unable to shake St. Paul Lutheran from its wake after BHS’ Lady Bulldogs staked out a 17-7 advantage after one quarter behind Rylee Sensenich’s nine points.

A slow start on offense in the second half provided an opening which the Concordia-based boarding school tried to exploit. Down 21-10 shortly before halftime, the Lady Saints scored 10 of the 12 next points to be within a possession midway through the third quarter.

The blue-and-white Lady Bulldogs snapped out of their offensive lethargy on a Cassi Conard deuce and by the end of the third frame had back their 9-points halftime margin, leading 31-22.

Although the teams combined for 36 points in the last eight minutes, including four triples by SPL’s Cynthia Bennett, Brookfield effectively kept the Lady Saints at arm’s length, riding nine Conard tallies.

For the game, seniors Sensenich and Conard paced the BHS offense – the former finishing with 17 points and latter netting 16. Tacking on 10 more was Kaylie Stufflebeam.

St. Paul Lutheran’s Bennett led all scorers with 18 points, all from 3-points land.