Carrollton's own fine shooting keeps Wednesday's Class 3 District 14 semifinal competitIve, but not close, as top-seeded hosts secure 47-31. Chillicothe, Trenton title rematch Saturday

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — The top-seeded hosts proved to have too many offensive potions for the Carrollton High School Lady Spartans’ “pick-your-poison” defense to succeed in Wednesday evening’s Class 3 District 14 Tournament semifinal game.
On their home floor, Chillicothe’s Lady Hornets did damage inside and out in doubling the southern Class 3 neighbors through three quarters before coasting to the wire as 47-31 victors.
“It’s one of those deals where, ‘Take what you’re given,’” Darren Smith, Chillicothe head coach, said of his team’s success stemming from first being effective in the lane.
Chillicothe (19-7) will take on Trenton (15-11) Saturday at 5 p.m. for the right to advance to the 2019-20 Class 3 state tournament. The first-round state game will be at Moberly Area Community College’s Fitzsimmons-John Arena next Wednesday evening at 6:30.
“We shot the ball well tonight, we defended well tonight, and – until the fourth quarter – we took care of the ball well tonight, so we’re really close to where we want to be, going into a district-championship (game),” the Chillicothe coach said of his team’s readiness for its district-finals rematch. A far-more-seasoned and talented THS Lady Bulldogs squad stifled the Lady Hornets, 46-25.
The district semifinal clash between CHS clubs with nearly-identical records, but dissimilar resumés – in terms of both caliber of competition faced and student populations to draw from, developed along the lines of expectations with larger Chillicothe largely controlling things.
With Carrollton’s 2-3 zone defense extra alert early to trying to cover the Lady Hornets’ potent perimeter shooting game, Chillicothe capitalized in and around the paint.
“We were pretty patient. … Their 2-3 zone – they came out and guarded the perimeter really well.”
The hosts put up the contest’s first six points with Essie Hicks paint deuces of about eight feet after taking passes at the foul line sandwiching an easy Brooke Horton left-side lay-in created by Hicks’ mid-lane feed.
Carrollton shot a good percentage, particularly from long range, but – because of its deliberate offensive pace and Chillicothe’s well-positioned defense – didn’t get shots away very quickly on most possessions. When combined with Chillicothe’s even-higher scoring percentage, any scoreless Lady Spartans possessions tended to result in a ever-growing deficit.
“They really were trying to slow the game down,” Smith reacted. “… We’ve got a lot of firepower, so I get it.”
When Raegan Pierson sank a 3-pointer from the right wing with about 2:45 left in the first stanza, the visitors were within 8-6. However, Chillicothe registered eight points in a row – bookended by Jordan Hibner triples – in the next 2:40 to begin asserting control at 16-6 early in the second quarter.
With Hunter Keithley hitting a couple of 3s, Chillicothe reached halftime in front 24-12.
“Hunter and Jordan picked their spots,” Smith said of his senior multi-seasons starters’ patient awareness of not needing to force long shots under pressure.
With Hibner knocking down two more triples, bringing her with two of equaling her CHS season record of 71 – set last year, while Horton and Hicks split eight more inside tallies, the Lady Hornets scored 14 of the third quarter’s first 18 points. That spiked their lead to a game-most 22 points, 38-16, and they mostly cruised the rest of the way.
Statistically, Hicks’ 15 points on near-perfect shooting led Chillicothe’s attack. Hibner and Horton provided 12 apiece.
“Essie’s been really good at that high post lately and Brooke was finishing really well (in the low post) tonight,” Smith reflected.
Carrollton was led by MaKenzie Brown’s 10 points, all of which came in the second half.
Both teams’ effectiveness in hitting shots – especially in the opening half – was reflected in, unofficially, the Lady Hornets being credited with 13 assists out of 19 baskets on the night and Carrollton eight out of 12 , as well as there being only four defensive rebounds before intermission. Keithley led Chillicothe with six helpers.
Trenton 42, Brookfield 32
Trenton’s second-seeded squad overcame a fast Brookfield start to take Wednesday’s later semifinal by 10 points.
With Rylee Sensenich (two) and Kaylie Stufflebeam combining for three first-stanza treys, the No. 3 see had a 15-7 lead going to the second frame, but there it got stuck.
Trenton adjustments and upgrades in its play led it netting the first 12 points of the second quarter and reaching halftime in front, 20-18.
A virtually-even third stanza sent the contest to the fourth with THS up 30-27 in the battle of Lady Bulldogs.
The game remained anyone’s to claim until Brookfield’s offense stalled out in the final several minutes – its only scoring in the closing segment was done by Stufflebeam with a trey and a deuce – and Trenton controlled the backboards and made 10 of 15 free throws.
Trenton, which lost to Chillicothe 58-29 at home in mid-December, was paced offensively against Brookfield by junior star forward Maci Moore’s 21 points. She hit 10 of 11 second-half charity tosses. Chipping in 10 to the THS cause was Makayla Blackburn.
Brookfield’s Sensenich scored 11 and Stufflebeam 10.