Chillicothe begins 2021 same way it ended 2020 – with cage sweep

Boys keep wits in stretch, win by eight, after girls cruise

As reported to C-T
  • Lucy Reeter's 14 points lead 6-1 Lady Hornets to victory

LAWSON — Having led ever since scoring the game’s first three points on a Hayden Simmer shot about a minute in, the Chillicothe High School basketball Hornets responded to their 1-time 10-points lead shrinking to one three times midway through the second half with an 11-2 surge and subsequently hit enough late free throws to turn back the host Lawson Cardinals 44-36 Tuesday night.

“We battled through adversity a couple of times,” Tim Cool, head coach of the Hornets, reflected in a post-game broadcast interview. “Good teams like Lawson are going to take a run at you and we fought their run off a couple of times.”

The CHS boys’ victory in their initial 2021 outing followed a blowout 57-26 triumph by the Lady Hornets as both Chillicothe teams returned to play after a 21-days break.

The sweep was the CHS squads’ third in a row, following mid-December home outings against Trenton and Macon. The Lady Hornets’ record climbed to 6-1 and the Hornets’ to 4-2 with Tuesday’s non-conference triumphs.

After opening league play against Bishop LeBlond at St. Joseph Friday, the Lady Hornets (and the Hornets) will play in  the Jan. 11-16 Lawson Invitational Tournament. Both will have their opening-round game next Tuesday – the top-seeded CHS girls meeting Richmond at 5:30 p.m. and the second-seeded Chillicothe boys meeting Hamilton: Penney after that. Both games will be in LHS' new Barker Center adjacent to the high school gym.

Last Tuesday’s boys’ game at Lawson saw the 25-15 lead the Hornets built with a string of seven unanswered points bridging halftime – five of them by Simmer – quickly shrivel to one as the Cardinals reeled off 9-straight tallies midway through the third quarter.

However, after LHS failed to score on a possession which gave it a chance to take its first lead, Simmer scored on a layup in transition.

A Lawson deuce that cut the gap to 27-26 was countered by a nifty left baseline give-and-go between sophomores Wyatt Brandsgaard and Landon Winder with Brandsgaard on the finish. That CHS bucket with just under 20 seconds left in the period sent the Hornets into the fourth period in front by three.

Lawson scored first in the last stanza to once again pull within a point, but then Chillicothe made its key push.

After Brandsgaard’s offensive rebound, freshman center James Mathew unexpectedly coolly fired a 16-feet left-baseline jumper in a 1-point game that found nothing but net. It proved to be an igniter.

A possession or two later, Mathew fed a pass from the left elbow to sophomore guard Griff Bonderer on the left wing, producing a trey – Bonderer’s third of the night – that doubled the Chillicothe margin to six.

Even when two missed Mathew free throws were followed by a Lawson deuce, Simmer tallied on a putback and Bonderer struck again from beyond the arc. After another CHS defensive stop, the home team had to gamble on a fouling strategy which briefly gave it some hope.

After Simmer made one of two foul shots in the bonus reestablished a 10-points Chillicothe lead of 40-30, two pull-up triples from left of the key by Max Trout sandwiched a Brandsgaard charity toss in the bonus. Those 22-footers made it 41-36, CHS, with still about 40 seconds to play.

However, when Brandsgaard converted twice on the Hornets’ last 1-and-1 situation to make it a 3-possessions game again with about 35 seconds left, Chillicothe broke the back of the last-gasp LHS rally attempt.

“We had to fight through some adversity and they hung in there together and just kept guarding and made enough baskets to win,” Cool observed.

Statistically, Bonderer’s four triples in eight tries helped him put up a team-best 17 points. Simmer, who like Bonderer is averaging between 13 and 14 points a game, was close behind with 15 and Brandsgaard contributed 10.

Simmer just missed a double-double, snaring a team-high nine rebounds and also made two steals, while senior guard Mason Baxter had seven assists.

“We talked (before the game) about coming out and playing a little ‘angry,’” Cool shared in his post-game remarks. “… (Lawson) fought like heck and we fought right back.“

“There’s no time when they stop playing hard,” the Hornets coach praised his players.

M. Trout’s 15 points led Lawson (1-8).

Chillicothe played without normal sophomore starting post player Cayden Potter. Freshman guard Jackson Trout made his varsity debut in a reserve role and played fairly extensively.

Led by lone senior Brooke Horton, Chillicothe’s Lady Hornets established a 12-6 lead after one quarter before taking full-fledged control.

With junior guard Lucy Reeter ringing up 10 points from inside and outside the arc and at the foul line and Horton adding four points to the five she had in the opening segment, CHS outscored the Lady Cardinals 19-8 in the second stanza to lead 31-14 at intermission.

“They stepped up big,” Smith said of L. Reeter and Horton’s strong start. “You could see it coming in (holiday-break) practice.”

While L. Reeter had her best offensive night of the season to date, the CHS coach pointed out he’s been very happy with her play at the other end of the court all season.

“That’s the thing I’ve been most pleased with,” he said in a post-game, webcast interview. “Her defense has been there all year.”

An even-more-decisive third quarter in which Chillicothe produced 21 of the 27 points had the “running clock” in use at the outset of the last frame with the visitors up 52-20.

When Kinlei Boley hit a right-side layup off Izzy Montgomery’s pass in the last minute, the Lady Hornets held the game’s largest lead and established the final score.

Statistically for Chillicothe, Lucy Reeter’s 14 points led the winners, making her the fourth team member to be the leading scorer in a game in only seven contests. 

Horton and Jessica Reeter joined her in double digits with 11 tallies apiece.

Lawson’s scoring was led by Laken Mann’s six points.