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Chillicothe (Mo.) HS boys fall by eight in MEC basketball at KC: St. Pius X

First league loss comes despite Brandsgaard’s 24 points, Bonderer’s double-double

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News

KANSAS CITY — For a high school basketball team, shooting 28% from 3-points distance, 48% overall from the floor, and a mere 50% from the free-throw line while your opponent is sinking 11 “3s” generally is a losing proposition.

It was for the Chillicothe Hornets Tuesday night, even if not by as wide a margin as one might expect.

The Hornets (12-5, 1-1 conf.) actually were within two possessions of Midland Empire Conference opponent Kansas City: St. Pius X inside the final two minutes and even had possession with two short-range shots – one undefended from point-blank distance – from their top two scorers on the season with a chance to get within four points in that time frame, only to not make any further headway and subsequently absorb a 67-59 loss.

The Hornets’ low rate of shooting success from the field continued a general trend over the past handful of games. It is one they’ll need to get remedied if the last few weeks of the regular season are to extend the noteworthy rate of success they had prior to February.

They’ll have a challenge doing so next time out Friday at St. Joseph: Benton, a team which defeated St. Pius X (5-13, 1-1 conf.) by four earlier this season.

Tuesday’s CHS defeat came despite a career-best scoring and solid overall performance by one starting sophomore and a double-double that neared triple-double status from another 10th grade regular.

Forward Wyatt Brandsgaard swam against the CHS shooting current by sinking 10 of 15 2-points attempts, mostly of a well-guarded variety within five feet of the rim, as part of an early-career-best of 24 points. He also yanked down seven rebounds and earned four assists, according to team statisticians.

Aside from Brandsgaard’s facility for finishing near the basket, the Hornets made only seven of 20 2-points attempts. They had even less luck outside the arc, going five of 18.

Guard Griff Bonderer couldn’t escape the team’s general shooting woes, including a highly-uncharacteristic 3-of-7 night at the foul line, yet still rang up 19 points while pulling down 10 rebounds. He also was tracked for eight assists.

The poor CHS shooting stood in contrast to St. Pius X’s success from long range. While their exact percentage is unknown, it likely was close to or above 50 percent as, led by Sam Ervie’s half-dozen, it rang the bell 11 times. That was one more trey than the Warriors had deuces.

The hosts also were more efficient when they got to the charity stripe, sinking 14 of 19. S. Ervie, who scored a game-high 29 points, led his team there, as well, going seven of eight.

Chillicothe stepped out to 5-points leads twice in the first quarter as Bonderer and Brandsgaard flashed early hot hands. However, once Bonderer chilled out after the first several minutes, the Hornets spent most of the last three periods playing uphill.

On top 16-13 after one frame, they soon found themselves trailing in the second as Chase Wilcox’s defensive rebound and coast-to-coast foray turned into a tying three-points play when he was fouled.  A couple of possessions later, Wilcox sank a pull-up jumper from the foul line to give SPX its first lead of the game, 18-16.

The Hornets returned to the lead when Brandsgaard hit consecutive shots from deep on the block, inched ahead again at 22-21 on another Brandsgaard low-post move, and, finally, at 28-27 on his putback of one of CHS’ 13 errant 3-points attempts with less than a minute to go in the opening half.

The Kansas City Catholic school’s team scored on a driving shot in the last five seconds of the half to slip back in front at intermission. When S. Ervie and Wilcox sank trifectas in the first minute of the second half and were followed by a Warriors transition deuce and two free throws, the Warriors had zipped from a point behind to an 11-points lead in about 1:40.

Chillicothe never again possessed the ball with a chance to tie or lead. The closest it got was a pair of 5-points deficits in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter.

One thing the visitors did well was rebound. They were officially marked for 40 caroms collected to, unofficially, 26 for St. Pius X.