CHS' Bonderer, Simmer split 50 points, Hornets win again Tuesday

Lady Hornets’ lack on interior offense prompts loss at Cameron

As reported to C-T
Chillicothe (Mo.) HS basketball Lady Hornets freshman Joiie Bonderer defends against Cameron standout Laini Joseph while trying to avoid a high screen being set by Lady Dragon Olivia Moore during the second half of Tuesday's (Feb. 23) game at Cameron. Bonderer helped limit Joseph to eight points through three quarters, but the Cameron senior netted six more in the fourth as the Lady Dragons pulled away to win, 55-42.

CAMERON — Chillicothe High School’s basketball Hornets went on a bit of a roller-coaster ride at Cameron Tuesday night, but came off it smiling, not nauseous.

Having surged to as much as an 11-points first-half lead on a sharp mix of inside and outside scoring, then being stunned by a 16-2 Cameron Dragons run that commenced with the last basket of the first half and ended with the Hornets down by five points midway through the third period, the Hornets got restarted with the last three of sophomore guard Griff Bonderer’s near-CHS-record seven 3-pointers and then rode senior wing player Hayden Simmer’s 14 final-frame points to secure a 61-55 victory.

The boys’ game victory – Chillicothe’s second Midland Empire Conference road triumph in as many nights – offset a troubling 55-42 loss by the Lady Hornets, who sustained consecutive defeats for the first time this season.

The outcomes left the Hornets with a 14-8 overall mark and 3-3 MEC ledger heading into Thursday’s regular-season and league finale at Maryville. The Lady Hornets dipped to a still-impressive 16-6 overall record, but they’re 2-4 in the conference prior to meeting league champ Maryville on the road Thursday.

Regardless of Thursday’s outcomes, the Chillicothe girls are set to open Class 4 District 16 tournament play at home Saturday at 1 p.m. against lowly Richmond. The Lady Hornets waxed the Lady Spartans 73-13 during the mid-January Lawson Invitational.

Chillicothe’s boys will try to repeat Monday’s double-digits victory at Savannah when they again visit the Savages to begin district-tourney play next Monday at 6 p.m.

Sophomore guard Griff Bonderer of the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS basketball Hornets pulls the trigger on a mid-third-quarter 3-pointer which pushed the Hornets ahead 37-36 at Cameron Tuesday (Feb. 23, 2021). Bonderer canned seven trifectas in the game and shared with teammate Hayden Simmer game scoring honors with 25 points apiece as Chillicothe's boys won their second in a row, 61-55.

That Tuesday’s boys’ contest at Cameron produced a near-record salvo of 3-pointers by a Hornet couldn’t have been expected, but that doesn’t mean it was necessarily a big surprise, considering history.

In a mind-boggling statistical anomaly, G. Bonderer’s outburst which left him one shy of Preston Moritz’s Jan. 26, 2002, CHS single-game record of treys followed a remarkable pattern of such success on the Cameron court.

Moritz’s mark was established in a game against Richmond that came during the 2002 Cameron Invitational Tournament, but that’s only the start of the Cameron connection.

Moritz’s eight surpassed the previously-shared mark of seven originally set by then-freshman Justin Walter in 1995, matched by Walter’s classmate Burt Dickinson when they were seniors in 1998, and equaled by Zach Keith in 2001. All three of those “lucky sevens” had come during Cameron tourney games, as well.

As if that isn’t enough, five years after Keith did it, Austin Sloan sank seven treys in a game against St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond – yep, you guessed it – during the Cameron tournament.

Now, Bonderer has joined the “Cameron sevens” club, sharing the second-highest single-game total with not only Keith, Dickinson, Sloan and Walter.

“When he gets in a rhythm, he’s tough to guard,” commented Tim Cunningham, Chillicothe acting head coach.

Interestingly, Moritz, who averaged less than seven points a game that 2001-02 season, had equaled the record then shared by only  Dickinson and Walter only eight nights earlier when he buried seven triples in a home win over Maryville. That remains the only time a Hornet has rolled a “lucky seven” anywhere but the Dragons’ den.

While Bonderer shouldered much of the scoring load through three quarters, Simmer stepped up in a big way in the fourth quarter to actually put the Hornets over the top.

The senior, already in twin figures with 11 points through 24 minutes, put on his own show from outside the arc in the last eight, sinking three to go with a deuce and three free throws.

His unguarded right-wing trey off a baseline in-bounds pass from Bonderer in the first minute of the fourth period broke the 42-42 tie which existed at the end of three and provided the Hornets with a lead they’d maintain the rest of the way.

With the score 47-46 2-1/2 minutes into the last period, Simmer uncorked a personal 8-0 run with an 8-feet pull-up jumper from the left baseline, a right corner triple, and a left wing bomb. Each of the two 3s was set up by a Bonderer pass, including the last on another baseline in-bounds play on which no Cameron defender approached Simmer as he caught the pass.

Chillicothe went on to run its lead back out to a game-best-matching 11, 57-46, with 1:15 left before Cameron hit some inconsequential shots that cut that about in half.

“We were fortunate enough in the fourth quarter to make enough plays to win,” reflected Cunningham. Long-time head coach Tim Cool continued to sit out in COVID-19 quarantine after contracting the illness, but could be back for Thursday’s game at Maryville, Cunningham reported.

Statistically, at game’s end, Simmer’s sensational closing act left both he and Bonderer owning 25-points nights, jointly accounting for all but 11 of the team’s points.

The duo did so with combined 11-of-19 shooting outside the arc, but Simmer also went five of seven inside it. In a puzzling contradiction, however, the normally-fine free-throw shooter was only three of nine at the stripe, including missing his last four.

Cameron’s boys (9-16, 0-7 conf.) were led by Ian Riley’s 15 points.

Tuesday’s girls’ contest saw Chillicothe’s lack of an inside scoring attack make another poor perimeter-shooting performance, particularly with Cameron major low-post and driving damage, translate to a fourth MEC loss.

The home team never trailed even though it was outnumbered 6-2 in 3-pointers over the last 3-1/2 quarters.

Instead, it produced steadily with feeds to the low post to Olivia Moore, who turned them into buckets six times, and myriad driving deuces from Laini Joseph and Avery McVicker. All told, Cameron had a 22-8 margin in 2-points baskets, allowing it to prevent any Chillicothe “runs” which might have allowed the Lady Hornets to get back into close contention after a 12-0 Lady Dragons surge in the first quarter put the visitors in a 13-points hole.

Chillicothe never scored more than two times in a row and only did that five times all night, yet was positioned to steal the win when it scrambled back to within 40-35 entering the fourth quarter. Down 36-24 relatively early in the last half, Chillicothe outscored their hosts 12-5 the rest of the third frame.

A Lucy Reeter right-wing trey off Jolie Bonderer’s pass and Bonderer’s 9-footer from the right edge of the lane, facilitated by one of Selby Miller’s team-high four assists began that push.

Frosh Bonderer, who also did a strong job defensively against Cameron ace Joseph through three quarters – allowing her only three baskets and six points, then hit two free throws, an 18-footer from the key, and another two free throws in the last 3:05 of the third to reduce the gap to five.

She’d then connect from 11 feet for Chillicothe’s first scoring of the fourth quarter, making it 10 Lady Hornets points in a row she’d provided, but that was the only damage the guests did in the first 3-1/2 minutes, while Cameron was hitting its last trey before getting another Moore lay-in off a lob feed and another Joseph layup off a drive that returned the gap to dual digits.

When Jessica Reeter’s fourth trifecta of the game – her only points as she seemed to continue to be showing signs of what head coach Darren Smith had disclosed in an interview the night before was a recent illness – was trumped by three more Dragons driving deuces, the Cameron girls (18-7, 3-3 conf.) had a satisfying victory over a foe they had not defeated in just over nine years.

Statistically, while Bonderer was scoring a game-high 17 points and ripping down at least eight rebounds, the only teammate with more than five points was J. Reeter with 12.

Cameron, meanwhile, had four twin-numerals scorers, paced by fast-finishing Joseph’s 14. In addition to Moore’s 12, McVicker rang up 11, and Mica Dunscombe 10.

Whether being truly self-critical or trying to deflect any pressure from his players, CHS head coach Darren Smith said in a post-game broadcast interview, “I really messed this game up from the get-go. I told the girls that this (loss) is on me.

“I had us messed up from the opening tip on what the game plan was. It was terrible.”