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Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Basketball Squads Sweep 2020-21 Debuts at Hamilton Tuesday night

Each more than doubles host, boys dominating early and girls after halftime Tuesday

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
In a snapshot of the team-wide rebounding ethic not exhibited in years, but on display throughout the game, four Chillicothe High School basketball Lady Hornets converge on a defensive rebound – even to the point of Essie Hicks (left) and Brooke Horton battling each other for it – during their season-opening 48-24 triumph at Hamilton Tuesday. Unofficially, senior center Horton just missed starting the season with a scoring-rebounding double-double with 10 points and nine boards, while junior Hicks netted a game-high 14 points to go with five caroms.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

HAMILTON — For the first time since the 2014-15 season, Chillicothe (Mo.) High School’s varsity basketball teams tipped off a new season with victories on the same night at the same location Tuesday.

Visiting Penney High School at Hamilton for an all-Hornets evening of hoops, Chillicothe’s teams both at least doubled their hosts, CHS’ boys starting very fast before closing the evening with a 58-28 verdict after the Chillicothe girls hit the accelerator in the second half to prevail 48-24.

“I was very pleased with the first game, for the most part,” reacted Darren Smith, CHS head coach. “Lots of things to work on, but this team is very coachable and is working hard to get better.”

Barring outside complications, next for Chillicothe’s squads will be in action next week in the Savannah Invitational Tournament. The Lady Hornets are to meet Smithville Monday at 4 p.m. in their first-round game before the boys clash with Kearney in the opening round the following day at 5:30 p.m.

“We needed a game,” Tim Cool, Chillicothe head coach, observed. “… When we go to Savannah, we’ve got one game under our belt when we go play Kearney. That’s a good thing.”

Tuesday’s (Nov. 24) season debuts at Hamilton were anticipated to be potential Chillicothe runaways. While the finale was just that as CHS’ boys scored the first 15 points in just under 5-1/2 minutes, the girls’ tilt was either side’s for the taking late in the opening half before the visitors uncorked a decisive 31-5 run.

Chillicothe’s girls never trailed, but Hamilton did fight back from an early 8-2 deficit to tie the game twice – at 12 and 13 – in the second stanza.

“We were turning the ball over too much at the point of the (Hamilton) 1-2-2 (zone defense),” Smith detailed the mid-first-half offensive woes of his club. “We needed to get it to the post, high post and dribble-penetrate to beat that. We were just really weak with our passing in the first 13 minutes, but really stepped up after that.”

However, even while going more than eight minutes between field goals in one stretch, CHS managed to keep the PHS girls from doing much scoring either. As a result, when senior Brooke Horton ended the long field-goal famine with a shot from the right block 91 seconds before halftime, it gave Chillicothe a 15-13 lead and CHS would stay in front thereafter.

Before intermission arrived, Horton flipped in a couple of free throws after controlling one of – unofficially – 10 first-half offensive caroms Chillicothe claimed and freshman starter Jolie Bonderer hit from the floor for a 19-13 advantage heading to the locker room.

Julia Kanoy, Penney High senior, stuck back a teammate’s missed shot 11 seconds into the second half, but that would be her team’s only field goal in nearly 15 minutes as Chillicothe pulled away.

The visitors quickly answered Kanoy’s bucket with Horton’s weak-side putback and, 20 seconds later, sophomore Jessica Reeter’s trey from right of the key. Another Horton basket and one by junior Essie Hicks made it nine unanswered Chillicothe points and a 28-15 lead not quite 2-1/2 minutes into the last half.

“That was the focus at halftime was to get the ball inside,” Smith disclosed. “We need to have post touches most every trip.”

Over the last 3-1/2 minutes of the third quarter and 2:33 of the fourth, CHS topped that 9-0 run with 14 consecutive tallies, highlighted by a pair of Hicks treys – one from each wing – and another by J. Reeter. When Bonderer niftily drove through traffic down the lane from the key and hit a tough layup with 5:27 remaining, her team had its largest lead, 44-18.

Statistically, Horton unofficially narrowly missed starting her season with a double-double. She netted 10 points and unofficially was credited with nine rebounds.

“Brooke is so unselfish with the ball in the post but also is much more aggressive this year.

Topping the Chillicothe girls’ scoring was Hicks with 14 points. Hamilton was paced by Brighton Swindler’s 12 tallies.

Most impressive for CHS was its rebounding. It unofficially out-boarded Hamilton 40-25, including a 24-11 margin in the first half that minimized the damage from its second-stanza offensive struggle. By C-T count, Chillicothe had 15 offensive snares to Hamilton’s six. Individually, in addition to Horton’s nine caroms, the lithe Bonderer grabbed seven and guard Lucy Reeter six.

“I thought this team had the potential to be the best rebounding team I have had at Chillicothe,” Smith, starting his seven season guiding the CHS girls, noted. “We have several players – both ‘bigs’ and guards –  that attack the glass. They attack both ends, offensive and defensive.”

After being behind by only four when they scored first in the second half, PHS’ Lady Hornets were held without a basket for the next 11:25.

The girls’ victory secured, Chillicothe’s boys put their imprimatur on their opener right from the opening minute.

Senior guard Hayden Simmer’s putback deuce was CHS’ fourth shot of the game’s opening possession and lit the fuse on the guests’ first-frame fireworks

With multiple family members looking on in the background, Chillicothe High School basketball Hornets sophomore Wyatt Brandsgaard takes an inside shot during the second half of the team’s 58-28 2020-21 season-opening victory at Hamilton Tuesday. Although this shot didn’t find its way through the ring, in his debut as a varsity starter, Brandsgaard tallied 10 points – including three deuces in a 32-seconds span in the second period.

Sophomore Wyatt Brandsgaard, joining classmate Cayden Potter in making his inaugural varsity start, hit a left-side layup in transition and Simmer knocked down a 17-feet pull-up jumper on the left side for a 6-0 Chillicothe cushion at the 5:35 mark of the initial stanza.

Simmer hit a third time – this time from the left elbow – at the mid-point of the period ahead of classmate Mason Baxter’s basket-and-1 that pushed the margin into double digits, where it remained the rest of the contest.

Two Simmer free throws and sophomore reserve Landon Winder’s shot from the right block at the 2:33 mark gave CHS 15 points in a row at game’s and season’s start.

That string was cut by a trey from Hamilton sophomore reserve Gideon McBee with two minutes to go in the quarter and that’s how the frame ended, 15-3.

After the club’s exchanged follow-shot deuces in the first 1:20 of the second period, Chillicothe unleashed another downpour.

Potter hit inside again before Brandsgaard, younger brother of graduated 2019-20 CHS All-State honoree Westley Brandsgaard, seized the spotlight.

In a span of only 32 seconds, he finished off a nice spin move, converted a backcourt steal into a layup, and then cashed in another layup after Griff Bonderer’s steal and feed.

A Simmer theft allowed Baxter to get to the basket on the fast break for a crossover layup, after which Wy. Brandsgaard got the stickback off a teammate’s miss. That bucket gave him eight points in less than two minutes and his team 12 in succession over a span of 2:22 for a 29-5 cushion.

“He was at the top of our press there and got a couple of baskets out of that,” Cool explained. “Wyatt’s doing a really good job. He’s athletic, he’s skilled around the basket, he shoots the ball well.”

Up 31-8 at halftime against a Penney High roster heavily populated with athletes who were competing on the school’s football field about 200 yards away to the west only three days earlier, Chillicothe went on a 16-5 surge through the bulk of the third quarter. That allowed it to own a 47-17 lead entering the last one, meaning the “running clock” rule technically was in use.

That didn’t last long after the host Hornets scored first in the fourth quarter, although a game-ending 6-0 spurt by Chillicothe reserves in the closing 85 seconds restored the same 30-points spread CHS had at the beginning of the closing segment.

Complimented the CHS coach, “I tip my cap to Penney High. They played a football game on Saturday and got maybe two (basketball) practices and then they were willing to play us.”

Statistically, Simmer’s fast start led to a game-high 14 points for him. Close behind in his promising debut was 6’3” freshman James Mathew with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor and five rebounds and Wy. Brandsgaard popped in 10. 

Hamilton’s scoring was paced by forward Andrew Rich’s eight.

Bonderer led the CHS boys with seven rebounds and five assists and the visitors unofficially had a huge 34-13 advantage on the glass.

“We really crashed the boards well,” Cool praised.

2020 Savannah Invitational basketball tournament girls bracket
2020 Savannah Invitational basketball tournament boys bracket