Westley Brandsgaard becomes fifth Hornet ever to score 1,500 career points during 82-56 Tuesday win
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — When the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS basketball Hornets doubled Trenton’s Bulldogs 68-34 at Trenton in mid-December, they scored the game’s first 23 points, but still needed a 14-0 surge in the third quarter to establish lasting control.
Their rematch Tuesday (Feb. 25, 2020) in the quarterfinals of the Class 3 District 14 tournament on Chillicothe’s floor, Trenton previewed much-different offensive performance by hitting a first-minute 3-pointer which gave it a 1-point lead.
However, even with the Bulldogs knocking down a whopping 13 treys, 20-consecutive second-period points by the top-seeded Hornets (20-4) blew the lid off a game CHS eventually secured 82-56.
Early in the fourth quarter, a free throw by Hornets senior star Westley Brandsgaard gave him 1,500 career points, only the fifth CHS player ever to reach that plateau. When he added one more deuce before exiting, he ended the night with 1,502, one less than fourth-place early 1960s legend Jerry Parrish..
“I’m happy for him. He’s worked extremely hard to be where he is,” CHS head coach Tim Cool reacted.
“He’s such a special player, and it’s not just offense. He’s obviously a great offensive player, but he is so multi-faceted. He rebounds well, he just plays great defense, he’s a good passer. He just does a lot of great things for us.”
At the pinnacle of the CHS career scoring charts is We. Brandsgaard’s maternal uncle, Justin Bland, with 2,269 during his mid-1990s career. Late 1970s-early ’80s All-State forward Mitch Parrish (Jerry’s oldest son) had 2,124 and mid-1990s guard/forward Eric Hemmer piled up 1,830.
With the victory over its northern neighbor, Chillicothe (20-4) advances to Thursday’s 5:30 p.m. district semifinal against eastern neighbor Brookfield (13-12), the No. 5 seed which – scoring the game’s last six points in the final minute – eliminated defending champion and No. 4 seed Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran, 40-34.
Despite his team’s greater degree of success to date, Cool reminds that postseason play – with its higher stakes – doesn’t always mirror prior performance.
“Any time you get to the 1-and-done part of the season, nothing is easy,” he observed during a post-game broadcast interview. “We’ve got to be ready.”
Still, Chillicothe’s ninth-year head coach agreed that his squad reaching the 20-wins level is no small accomplishment, given a rigorous schedule.
“We started out 1-2 in a really-tough Savannah tournament, but I think our guys have bounced back all year from different things,” Cool told the C-T after the Hornets had prevailed for the 15th time in the past 16 contests..
“We’ve had a really good run. I just want to keep it rolling.”
Tuesday’s game with Trenton began its pivot from unexpectedly-tight battle to predicted runaway late in the first quarter when Hornet C.J. Pfaff scored from the left block in transition, erasing Trenton’s last lead with 1:41 to go in the period.
His coast-to-coast scoop layup was answered by, already, the fourth THS trifecta as Brycin Loyd hit for the second time with 14 seconds remaining.
Tied at 17-17, Chillicothe didn’t get a play run before the buzzer, but did score. With passing options covered, freshman guard Griff Bonderer pulled up his dribble and let fly from about 21 feet. The shot rippled the cords with three seconds showing, giving the Hornets a 20-17 lead after one stanza.
They would not trail again, getting low-post baskets from Bradley Riley and We. Brandsgaard in the first 80 seconds of the second period to make their lead seven.
Jaren Whitney’s 22-footer from beyond the top of the key tried to rally Trenton, but instead the home team brought the roof down on the Bulldogs in the form of a 20-0 blitz in just over four minutes.
The tidal wave began with another Bonderer trifecta at the 5:53 mark of the quarter. In steady succession, it was followed by We. Brandsgaard’s easy layup in transition as Pfaff found him all alone cutting in from the right wing, Pfaff’s 13-feet runner in the paint, Bonderer’s 2-on-2 fast-break layup off Pfaff’s pass, We. Brandsgaard’s shot from just outside the lane, Mason Baxter’s end-to-end driving score after blocking a THS shot, a RIley foul shot, a trademark muscle-up shot by We. Brandsgaard, and, finally, Hayden Simmer’s right-corner triple off We. Brandsgaard’s pass at the 1:45 mark of the second stanza.
Eventually, after leading 48-25 at halftime, Chillicothe opened the second half with a Pfaff left-wing trifecta that established its game-largest 26-points lead, 51-25. Although Trenton’s hot shooting, led by Whitney’s career-best 25 points, actually cut the deficit to 17 , 65-48, with just under six minutes left, the Hornets – spiced by three putbacks by 6’7” senior reserve Joe Tullos in the last 1:45 – eventually rebuilt the lead to that game-best 26 twice, including winning by that spread.
“We really moved the ball well offensively,” assessed Cool. “I thought we moved the ball well, I thought our player movement was good, and we took good shots.”
The Hornets’ string of 20 uninterrupted tallies was part of a much-longer stretch of dominance. Beginning with Pfaff’s deuce that took away Trenton’s last lead, Chillicothe outscored the Bulldogs 38-11 over the next 10 minutes of action.
The result of the precision activity at the offensive end not only was a season-high (by two) in points, but overall 60 percent shooting from the field and 21 assists, one off the Hornets’ season high.
He complimented Trenton’s resolve to battle from beginning to end and its skill in putting the ball in the hole.
“They shot it really well, too. They got in a good rhythm and made some baskets.”
Statistically, beyond those already cited, Tuesday’s tilt saw Pfaff right behind We. Brandsgaard with 20 points while also grabbing 10 rebounds – his eighth double-double of the season. Pfaff also handed out eight assists, blocked three shots, and made two steals.
Fellow senior Bradley Riley hit for 13 markers and underclassmen Hayden Simmer and Bonderer tallying eight apiece. Bonderer also had eight rebounds and a pair of helpers.
“Griff Bonderer did a good job, coming off the bench” when We. Brandsgaard sat down with 4:45 left in the opening period because of two fouls. “He hit a couple of big shots and guarded and rebounded well.”
THS’ Whitney, in his final high school basketball game, netted a career-high 25 points to lead all scorers. He fired in five treys, one more than Loyd finished with in a 12-points night.
Chilliothe out-rebounded Trenton 38-18.
Brookfield 40, Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran
BHS’ Bulldogs clinched no worse than a break-even season when it “won” the last minute of its game after letting a 31-25 lead after three periods get away.
Having scored only once – on Nick Jones’ three-points play – in the first seven minutes of the last stanza, but benefitted from probably-overzealous defense from the Saints in the last two minutes.
With only four team fouls on it for the second half, with the game tied, St. Paul Lutheran committed a pair of needless fouls far away from the basket with between 60 and 90 seconds to play in regulation time.
Thus, when it fouled Jones on the dribble – again with no shot by him imminent – inside the final minute, being the seventh team foul, it put him on the line for the 1-and-1. Answering the pressure of the moment, he sank both attempts to put Brookfield on top by two.
The Concordia faith-based boarding school – its roster, as usual, dotted with names which suggested foreign residence – then twice had perimeter passes stolen by Bulldog Cooper Cisna, resulting in his breakaway layups that took away SPL’s remaining hope.
With those late buckets, Cisna shared team scoring honors with Jacob Day, both connecting for 11 points. Jones had nine. St. Paul Lutheran’s Justin Griffith led all scorers with 13.
Richmond 85, Lexington 56
In the bottom half of the District 14 boys’ bracket Tuesday, second-seeded Richmond got all it wanted from Lexington in the first half, leading only 37-30 at the break and then seeing the Minuteman close to within three or four early in the third period.
However, once Richmond and star guard Dionte Marquez found another gear, they roared off into the distance. Owning a solid 10 points at intermission in a well-balanced attack, Marquez pumped in 16 in the third period alone – the final 12 on treys, including a buzzer-beater from 30 feet that made it 65-41, Spartans, after three.
Marquez’s 26 points were well supported by 14 apiece by bulky, soft-shooting 6’6” freshman center Jack Gogue and sophomore forward Keyshawn Elliott and nine by guard Layne Cavanah.
Higginsville 74, Carrollton 61
The victorious Huskers’ greater steadiness – scoring between 15 and 21 points in each quarter – allowed them to withstand several Carrollton charges, the last of which cut a nearly 20-points lead early in the second half to four within a matter of minutes.
The Lafayette County squad had the gap re-inflated to 16 points – 56-40 – by the end of the third stanza and continued to rebuff any Trojans surges to win by 13.
Sophomore Mason Rumsey scored a game-high 21 points for Higginsville, backed by 17 from Kyzer Gann-Vega, another 10th grader, and 16 by freshman Josiah Golden.
Carrollton’s Cedar Metz netted 17 markers with big Luke Davis getting 11 inside and Garrett Calvert 10.