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Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Basketball Lady Hornets Pass First League Test

Outduel host St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond on road Friday

As reported to C-T
Junior forward Essie Hicks of the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS basketball Lady Hornets gets down the lane to the basket for a third-quarter bucket during the team’s Dec. 11 home win over Trenton. Friday night (Jan. 8, 2021) at St. Joseph, she scored a game-high 17 points – all in the first three quarters – to help pace the CHS girls to a sixth-straight triumph, 45-39, over Bishop LeBlond. ( FILE PHOTO )
  • Lady Hornets win for sixth time in row with 8-2 closing surge
  • Hicks posts game-high 17 points in CHS' league-opening win at St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond
  • CHS girls, now 7-1, head to Lawson tournament as No. 1 seed

ST. JOSEPH — With junior forward Essie Hicks doing much of the heavy lifting and sophomore guard Jessica Reeter draining a wide-open 3-pointer from the left wing two seconds ahead of intermission to give them their first lead, the Chillicothe (Mo.) High School basketball Lady Hornets maintained the upper hand virtually the rest of the way as they began 2020-21 Midland Empire Conference competition Friday (Jan. 8) with a 45-39 victory over host St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond.

After J. Reeter’s transition trey following Lucy Reeter’s defensive rebound, quick advance to the forecourt, and feed to Selby Miller at the top of the key, who quickly found J. Reeter, the only time Chillicothe (7-1, 1-0 MEC) didn’t lead was early in the fourth quarter when BLHS’ Lady Golden Eagles (9-4, 0-1 conf.) scored seven of the first nine points of the final frame to knot things at 37 apiece.

On the ensuing CHS possession, freshman Jolie Bonderer was fouled trying a shot off a baseline in-bounds pass from J. Reeter and deposited both free throws to the twine, beginning a closing 8-2 push for the Class 4 state-ranked Lady Hornets. All eight of those points came on free throws, the last six on perfect work in the “bonus” situation by J. Reeter, Brooke Horton, and then Bonderer.

Hicks was the game’s dominant figure on offense through three quarters, hitting six deuces and five of six free throws for a game-best 17 points. She was hampered down the stretch after twisting her left ankle, but remained in the game.

She was the only double-digits scorer for either side.

“Essie was really dominating in the first half,” praised Darren Smith, Chillicothe head coach. “Kept us in it.”

Chillicothe’s girls now head into the Lawson Invitational Tournament, in which they are the No. 1 seed. They’ll start there Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. against No. 8 seed Richmond. Host Lawson, which CHS just defeated by 33 points on the LHS floor this past Tuesday, is the No. 2 seed.

Friday’s league opener, which eventually turned into the Lady Hornets’ sixth-straight triumph, began promisingly for the hosts. The Lady Golden Eagles rode three treys and three deuces – with five different sources – to a 15-9 lead after one stanza. Only Hicks’ seven first-quarter points kept CHS within shouting distance.

Early in the second quarter, J. Reeter found the target from downtown to help jolt the Chillicothe attack into a higher gear. Hicks chipped in another four, L. Reeter and Horton had deuces, and junior “sixth girl” Selby Miller – inserted primarily to guard Tatum Stuter, who Smith called “their best guard” – hit four foul shots without missing.

As a result, when J. Reeter knocked down the late triple, CHS went to the halftime break with the lead and never trailed again.

“Good team effort tonight,” Smith summarized. “We defended really well after the first quarter.”

Statistically, Chillicothe’s free-throw shooting was simply sensational. It hit 17 of 20, led by 4-of-4 work from both Miller and Bonderer, Hicks’ five of six, Horton’s two of two, and J. Reeter’s two of four.

Sloan Lewis’ eight tallies led the Lady Golden Eagles, with Shae Lewis and Stuter netting seven each.

“Selby guarded (Stuter) and was really good,” saluted Smith. Stuter had only two field goals.