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CHS boys get scare, but give Cool 500th career win

Basketball Hornets play for consolation at Cameron Saturday

As reported to C-T
Tim Cool, center, in his 10th year as head coach of the Chillicothe High School basketball Hornets poses with a ceremonial basketball denoting the 500th victory of his high school coaching career Thursday after the Hornets defeated Kansas City: Northeast 54-48 in the Cameron Invitational Tournament consolation semifinals. Flanked by Tim Cunningham (left), his chief assistant coach throughout Cool’s CHS tenure, and another veteran assistant, Canaan Fairley, who also helped generate a healthy percentage of those 500 victories while a player under Cool at Newtown-Harris, the presentation was made following Thursday’s victory by Dan Nagel, CHS director of athletics and principal.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

CAMERON — A major career milestone for Chillicothe High School boys’ basketball Hornets head coach Tim Cool Thursday came with greater difficulty than anticipated by many.

Cool, in his 10th season at CHS and 32nd as a high school head coach, reached 500 career victories when the mostly-cold-shooting Hornets fended off  Kansas City: Northeast 54-48 in the consolation semifinals of the weather-delayed Cameron Invitational Tournament.

That earned them a spot in today’s 11:30 a.m. consolation game against an opponent not determined until Friday night.

Cool’s coaching career began at south Missouri’s Dora in 1989-90. In two seasons leading that school’s girls, his teams managed a lowly 3-33 record.

He didn’t land another head coaching gig until hiring on at Newtown-Harris in 1994-95 as the boys’ coach. However, the change in gender of players didn’t alter the earlier trend as the  NHHS boys  finished 3-15.

Not only kept on at the area school, but handed the girls’ team reins, too, the following season generated a combined 12-28 mark before a turnaround began.

The ’96-’97 Newtown-Harris girls produced his first winning season (11-10), beginning a stretch of 4-straight winning years for that program before it finished below .500 in each of his last four years in charge.

The Newtown-Harris boys had losing records in his first eight years and didn’t have a winning mark until his 12th season there.

However, once his and wife Angie’s sons arrived in high school, coinciding with several other players, the boys’ team’s fortunes took a 180-degrees turn.

Five seasons in a row of 20-plus victories, including a Class 1 state runnerup finish in 2008-09, followed. After his 2010-11 team won “only” 19 times, he accepted an invitation from Chillicothe to make the big jump up from Class 1 to, in different years, Class 4 or Class 3.

Despite that challenge, his Hornets have had only one losing season (his second) and have had 20-plus wins two of the last three years. They’ve had winning records each of the last seven seasons and are making a solid bid to extend that to eight with a promising future lying ahead.

Facing Northeast for only the fourth time ever and first time in many, many years, the Chillicothe boys (10-4) jumped in front 4-0 in the first couple of minutes and 11-3 after one quarter Thursday. With the Vikings (1-14) having been drubbed by Columbia: Battle by 60 points in the opening round Tuesday, the sense was that the Hornets were headed for easy street at the Kansas City team’s expense, too, but that didn’t happen.

Freshman center James Mathew of the Chillicothe High School basketball Hornets banks in a short shot from the right block over 6'5" junior Ariath Kon of Kansas City: Northeast to start the game's scoring not quite a minute into Thursday's consolation semifinal in the Cameron Invitational Tournament. Mathew led CHS with a career-high-to-date 16 points as the Hornets slipped Northeast 54-48 to advance to today’s 11:30 a.m. consolation final.

The main reason was that, aside from freshman center James Mathew’s 8-of-11 shooting from 2-points distance, the Hornets made only 15 of 54 field-goal attempts, including a paltry 17% (nine of 33) from outside the arc.

That inability to put the ball through the hoop allowed Northeast to make things interesting in the fourth quarter after trailing 20-11 at halftime.

The Vikings outscored Chillicothe 16-11 in the third period to pull within four and stayed within striking distance the rest of the way. Only some strong defensive rebounding (32) kept Northeast at bay.

Statistically Thursday, beyond the Hornets’ 41% overall shooting from the field, Mathew’s team-high 16 points were the most in his fledgling career and nearly became part of a double-double. He pulled down nine of CHS’ 38 total boards.

Completing a scoring-rebounding double-double was Hornets sophomore guard Griff Bonderer. Although, like most of his teammates, his shooting eye was off, Bonderer did tally 12 points (helped by clutch 4-of-4 free-throw shooting in the last period) while ripping down a career-high 13 caroms, all off the defensive glass.

Classmate Cayden Potter dished out a team-most five assists and senior guard Mason Baxter came off the bench to provide eight points, being perfect on six second-half free throws. While the floor shooting was way off, the Hornets’ free-throw work was very good, making 17 of 22.

The game’s leading scorer was Northeast guard Nico Bateman with 19 points.

On Tuesday, Maryville’s fourth-seeded Spoofhounds took advantage of a 4-minutes-plus scoring drought by the Hornets to take the lead late in the first half and never gave it back, eventually using a game-ending string of 8-consecutive points to claim a 51-42 first-round victory in the 33rd-annual Cameron Invitational Tournament.

Having trailed most of the game’s first 12 minutes, thanks to hot early CHS perimeter shooting, Maryville moved in front 21-19 on a putback off one of its unofficial 11 offensive rebounds in the game with 1:50 left in the second period.

Although CHS’ Hornets made a strong push late in the third quarter and in the first half of the fourth after falling behind by as many as eight points twice in the third period, it never made up all of that ground.

Hayden Simmer’s bank shot from eight feet to the right of the lane off an in-bounds pass from Griff Bonderer with 3:17 to go in the game pulled Chillicothe within 43-42, but proved to be the Hornets’ last scoring of the game.

Another MHS second-chance basket after a missed free throw with 1:18 to play and two subsequent Spoofhounds steals that turned into points pushed the final spread out to a game-high nine points.

Explained Cool in a post-game broadcast interview, “We need to go from side to side and inside out (on offense). We went away from that and made it way easier for them to guard us. We were (moving the ball to) one side of the floor and (taking) a shot.”

At the outset Tuesday, dead-eye Chillicothe shooting from outside the 3-points arc twice led to 6-points Hornets leads.

The Hornets’ first five field goals – three by Bonderer and two by Wyatt Brandsgaard, including a bank shot from the top of the key – created, first, a 12-6 advantage and then a 15-9 margin for CHS.

However, Cool sensed that the early success with a more free-wheeling, quick-shooting approach, a style needed to win last Saturday’s game against a pressing Camdenton team looking to play an up-and-down game, lured his team into an approach not destined to succeed against more of a half-court foe like Maryville.

“We made some plays early and I kind of think it went to our head a little bit and we just kept trying to ‘make’ plays and kept trying to ‘make’ plays and, when you do that against a good defensive team, a team that’s back (on defense) and set, it just doesn’t work. They’re in great defensive rebounding position and we have no chance for an offensive rebound when (the ball’s shot) on the first side (it’s moved to). Little things like that,” he commented.

“The execution wasn’t there all night for our guys.”

Maryville’s defensive adjustment to stay closer to Bonderer and keep him away from the ball as much as possible on the offensive end helped lead to only three more Hornets treys the rest of the way – all of those in a 4:40 span late in the third period and through the middle of the fourth when CHS made its ill-fated final push.

Maryville subsequently upset No. 1 seed Battle 56-48 in Thursday’s championship semifinal.

Statistically, Brandsgaard’s 17 points on 6-of-9 overall shooting led all scorers. However, the remainder of the Hornets were a composite 10 of 32. After the early success from long range, Chillicothe faded to 32% luck for the full game.

Maryville’s scoring included 12 tallies each by Caleb Kreizinger and Keaton Stone and 10 from Caden Stoecklein.

Two key numbers which tipped the contest the ’Hounds’ way were them unofficially having only eight turnovers, compared to the Hornets’ 15 (by CHS statisticians and this reporter), and a 7-0 MHS advantage in second-chance points, keyed by its 11 offensive boards.

The game saw only 12 free-throw attempts, a mere two by the Hornets.“It was a good game for us to be in,” opined Cool, obviously looking ahead to the style of play generally found in the approaching “meat” of the Midland Empire Conference schedule. “It was a physical game, but I think the officials realized there were two teams that were good kids just competing and so I think they could let it be a little more physical and knew that nobody was going to cross the line and doing something dumb, so they let them play a little bit, and that was okay.”