Brandsgaard, Keithley recognized by media group a third time in a row. Pfaff repeats from 2018-19, while Hibner gets first-time nod. Hornets' Cool Class 3 boys' coach of year for northwest district
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CAMERON, Mo. — Chillicothe High School seniors C.J. Pfaff, Hunter Keithley, Westley Brandsgaard, and Jordan Hibner are members of the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association’s 2019-20 Class 3 all-district high school basketball teams for the media group’s northwest district.
The announcement of those players’ most-recent postseason honor, along with the selection of CHS boys’ head coach Tim Cool as Class 3 boys’ coach of the year for the district, was made by the MSSA Monday. There are seven Class 3 schools in the district’s boundaries and a 9-members squad was selected for each gender. The full list appears at the end of this story.
For Brandsgaard and Keithley, it is the third-successive season in which their play has been recognized by the association with all-district status, including on the Classes 4-5 team their sophomore seasons.
For Pfaff, it is a second-consecutive year of being on the group’s Class 3 squad. Hibner receives the honor for the first time.
For Cool, it is the third occasion in his nine seasons as Hornets head coach that he has been recognized by the media organization, which has been selecting all-district teams around the state since the late 1960s. He also was cited at the Classes 4-5 level in both 2014-15 and 2017-18.
Brandsgaard established himself as a regular in the Hornets starting lineup about a month into his freshman season after being the top reserve through the first eight games. He went on to become the CHS boys’ program’s fourth all-time leading scorer with 1,535 points – trailing his uncle and all-time leader Justin Bland, Mitch Parrish, and Eric Hemmer.
Late this season, he surpassed Mason Hayward’s career record for 3-points field goals with 141, 17 more than the old mark. The 6’3” Brandsgaard also approached team records in several free-throw shooting categories. His 426 successful foul shots in his career are the second-most ever by a Hornet, behind only his uncle’s 465.
Specific to this season, he led Chillicothe in scoring average (20.3 points per game), points (527), field goals attempted and made (168 of 301) overall field goal percentage (56 percent), 3-points shooting percentage (42 percent), and free throws made and attempted (144 of 189).
He was second to Pfaff in 3-points baskets (47), rebounds (147), and defensive rebounds (107). His career games played total of 105 is eighth-highest in CHS boys’ history.
Pfaff, a match-up conundrum for opponents since he had the ballhandling skill and anticipatory defensive instincts of a guard, but the 6’4”, long-armed frame, carom-reading skill and desire, shot-blocking timing, and quick-jumping ability of a low-post rim protector and rebounder, exploited his rare size-and-skills package even more effectively as a senior after reaping postseason laurels as a junior. That was most-starkly evidenced by his 11 points/rebounds “double-doubles” in the 2019-20 season.
Able to score equally-effectively from the perimeter, on the drive, as a post-up player at either the high or low post, and in transition, Pfaff led the Hornets in 3-points field goals (49) and in 2-points shooting percentage (64 percent). Among his 116 deuces were 14 dunks, certainly among the most ever in a season by a Hornet (although exact records in that category are not kept) and quite possibly more than any other CHS player ever.
Most of his “flushes” came on breakaways following some of his team-high 55 steals, but a few came out of the half-court offense or on other fast breaks.
In addition to pacing the Hornets in steals, Pfaff also topped them in rebounds (226), defensive rebounds (191), assists (87), and shot blocks (50). With opponents more aware of his penchant for pilferage this past season, his still-prolific, team-best 2019-20 steals total did not approach the team single-season record 76 he had a season before.
He shared with Brandsgaard the team lead in overall field-goal attempts (301) and his 18 points and 8.7 rebounds per game average seems to be the closest any Hornet has come to averaging a “double-double” in those categories since Bland averaged just over 20 points and just under nine rebounds his senior year of 1997-98. Bland averaged a “double-double” of just over 18 points and just under 13 rebounds as a junior.
Pfaff also was a deadly 3-points shooter, his 41 percent accuracy a percent point behind Brandsgaard’s team-best. Brandsgaard spiked his race 10 percent as a senior and Pfaff 9 percent, helping fuel the team’s outstanding 21-5 campaign which, at one point, included a 12-games winning streak – the Hornets’ longest since 1997-98.
Either Brandsgaard or Pfaff led the Chillicothe boys in scoring in every game except one (60-25 win over Lawson in early January), with the former doing it 17 times and latter nine (they shared game honors once). Brandsgaard twice this past season (vs. Macon and Brookfield) netted his career-high of 30 points in a game, while Pfaff sank a career-best 29 against Camdenton.
While not breaking any game, season, or career records in any statistical category – she’s in the top five in at least a handful of season and career stats, the 5’9” Keithley clearly was the team’s most-diversified talent each of her last three seasons, leading to her postseason recognition after each of them.
A very efficient long-range shooter – if, at times, almost too reluctant to trigger such shots, she also could drive and finish, or post up on the block against either a larger or shorter foe and use her height or quickness to beat that defender, exploiting the facility she developed during her CHS career to shoot with either hand in close. She also was an effective offensive rebounder many times and had the mobility to get out on the fast break and scoring.
Complementing all of those traits and enhancing them was her excellence in shooting free throws.
Netting 125 of 156 tries at the charity stripe as a senior – an 80 percent success rate for the second year in a row, she completed her career with 310 made in exactly 400 attempts – a 77.5 percent rate of success. This year’s 125 “good” foul shots, her 310 for her career, her 80.21 free-throws percentage as a junior, and her career accuracy rate each stands third in CHS girls’ annals. By sinking those 125 “Annie Oakleys” this past season – her 80.13 accuracy sits fourth, right behind her showing a year earlier, in the CHS girls’ record book, she joins mid-late 1990s Lady Hornets legend Katie Stephens in being the only CHS girls to sink at least 100 free throws in a season twice, according to records researched by Randy Dean, long-time sports director of local KCHI Radio.
As for shooting a bit farther away from the rim than 15 feet and with defenders able to contest her shots, Keithley’s 29 treys as a senior – following 48 as a junior – lifted her career total just into triple digits at 102. That has her fifth currently on the all-time list, although freshman teammate Jessica Reeter’s 41 this past season suggests Keithley’s hold on the No. 5 spot might be relatively short-lived.
Never having scored more than 22 points in a game – a high she set this season in a win over Platte County – nor having averaged more than the 13.6 points she netted as a sophomore in any season, Keithley instead incrementally increased her career points total game by game, season by season, until surpassing the 1,000-points plateau late this past regular season. The picture of steadiness with 354 as a sophomore, 331 as a junior, and 358 as a senior, she ended her career with 1,048 tallies.
Beyond those already noted, her numbers this season included a team-best 12.8 points per game – the only team member to average in double digits – and a team-topping average of 3.6 assists. Pacing the squad in all free-throw categories, she also had the most 2-points field goals (73) and best shooting percentage inside the arc (53 percent) and overall (48 percent). Keithley also was No. 1 on the 20-8, Midland Empire Conference tri-champions in steals with 33.
Although an exact record for it is not known to have been specifically researched, it seems certain that Keithley this past season became the first Lady Hornet since possibly Stephens or beyond that – and possibly ever – to have had a season in which she reached triple figures in her season totals in four significant statistical categories.
With three assists in the season-ending loss to Macon in the sectional round of the Class 3 state tournament, she reached exactly 100 assists for the campaign. She also sank 102 total field goals and grabbed 125 rebounds to go with her 125 made free throws.
Where Keithley used her all-around offensive ability to shade and shape games, classmate Hibner was more of a barber’s single-edged razor, able to slice an opponent to ribbons with her super-sharp 3-points shooting.
Hibner – like the other CHS all-district selections, also a willing and effective competitor at the defensive end of the floor – emerged as a long-distance offensive option for the Lady Hornets as a sophomore, when she popped in 42 3-pointers. She then exploded into a “must-stop” factor for opponents as a junior, effectively beginning with a CHS single-game record-breaking seven treys in an early-season home win over Marshall and ending with her last trifecta of the 2018-19 season in the waning minutes of the season finale being her 71st of the campaign. That total eclipsed by one Richelle Barrett’s quarter-century-old CHS girls’ record for 3s.
Entering her final season only 19 triples shy of Hannah Jones’ Lady Hornets career standard of 132 triples, Hibner rippled the cords from deep six times and scored a season-high 22 points in the team’s loss at eventual Class 3 state quarterfinalist Macon in the team’s sixth game to draw within two to tying Jones’ mark.
After getting only one at home in the next game, she blew past the record in highly-impressive fashion when she buried five tries without a miss in a loss to Smithville at North Central Missouri College in Trenton during the Christmas break.
With most opponents scheming defensively to limit her looks at the rim from outside the 3-points line, Hibner – like Keithley, at times too willing to pass up a 3-points shot opportunity if a defender was anywhere in the vicinity – didn’t quite keep up her early-season pace of averaging three a game. However, with three in the final outing, she finally reset her mark from a season ago, finishing with 73 for the 2019-20 season. She reached that lofty mark with tremendous efficiency, knocking down 45 percent of her attempts from “downtown”
Added to her totals of the prior two campaigns, she closed out her CHS career as the Lady Hornets’ all-time “queen of 3s” with 186, obliterating the former mark – set by Jones over four full seasons – by 54. In addition, her 42.86 percent career accuracy rate on 434 attempts eclipsed Stephens’ previous team record of 42.23 percent, giving Hibner a fourth CHS girls’ record.
Her per-game scoring average of 9.3 points coming almost exclusively from 3-points land, Hibner shared the team lead in steals with Keithley – each with 33 total – and was a distant second to Keithley in assists.
She also was, far and away, the Lady Hornets’ most-surehanded ballhandler/passer committing a mere 13 all season, barely one-third of her steals total and giving her a highly-laudable assists-to-turnovers ratio of about 2.5:1, as well. By comparison, of the other six players who routinely saw extended playing time in every game, the next-lowest turnovers total was 30, with four of them in excess of 68, more than five times Hibner’s total.
On the sideline, Cool reaped the third MSSA district recognition in his nine years at the Hornets’ helm with a second season of 20 or more wins in the past three years.
The 21-5 ledger this season was a nice rebound from a 14-11 log in 2018-19 and virtually matched the 22-5 mark of 2017-18 that is the high-water mark of the Cool era. The long-time coach, also Class 1 district coach of the year in 2008-09 when he led Newtown-Harris to a state-runnerup finish, earned the district honor for the first time at CHS in 2014-15 when the team finished 18-10 after again having a 14-11 mark the winter before.
This year’s accomplishments included a second-place finish in the MEC and winning the championship of the Cameron Invitational Tournament over archival Maryville, who the Hornets topped twice in as many meetings.
With this year’s results, Cool’s CHS won-lost record climbed to 145-90 with a single non-winning season (2012-13). The Hornets had gone through six losing seasons in a row prior to his arrival.
Here is the full list of 2019-20 MSSA northwest district all-district selections for Class 3:
Serena Sundell, 6’1”, sr., Maryville
Maci Moore, 5’10”, jr., Trenton
Hunter Keithley, 5’9”, sr., Chillicothe
Laini Joseph, 5’8”, jr., Cameron
Laken Manns, 5’9”, jr., Lawson
Anastyn Pettlon, 5’3”, fr., Maryville
Jordan Hibner, 5’4”, sr., Chillicothe
Lexi Whitaker, 5’7”, sr., Trenton
Kaitlyn Smith, 5’4”, sr., Cameron
Coach of the Year – Matt Wenck, Cameron
Westley Brandsgaard, 6’3”, sr., Chillicothe
Tate Oglesby, 6’, sr., Maryville
C.J. Pfaff, 6’4”, sr., Chillicothe
Blake Gordon, 6’, sr., Lathrop
Chris Moore, 6’4”, jr., Lathrop
Grant Lewis, 6’7”, sr., Lathrop
Nick Helmich, 5’11”, sr., Cameron
Ben Walker, 6’3”, jr., Maryville
Riley Sands, 5’10”, sr., Lawson
Coach of the Year — Tim Cool, Chillicothe