Chillicothe HS cagers suffer lone sweep in regular-season finales

Broken backboard triggered shifting sites in losses at Maryville Thursday

As reported to C-T
Brooke Horton, lone senior on the 2020-21 Chillicothe High Schiik basketball Lady Hornets, prepares to release a game-tying 16-foot jumper in the middle of the second quarter of last Thursday's game at Maryville. Although tied a few times, CHS never led in the contest, eventually claimed by Midland Empire Conference champ Maryville 47-34.

MARYVILLE — Not counting tournaments, Chillicothe High School’s varsity basketball teams played same-site doubleheaders an unusually-high nine times during the now-complete 2020-21 regular season, due to a combination of COVID-19 precautions and bad weather/travel conditions.

After sweeping the first six from non-conference schools and, earlier this week, splitting the next two against Midland Empire Conference members, the Hornets and Lady Hornets found themselves on the losing end of both games for the only time Thursday night at Maryville.

Of course, if you want to split hairs, it could be argued that the losses to Maryville occurred at different sites, even if in the same school system.

What otherwise simply projected to be both CHS teams playing out the string before hopefully enjoying some postseason success became a bit more memorable/unusual Thursday when an incident at halftime of the girls’ game led to the second half of it being switched to a different gym in the Maryville High building and then the boys’ game being relocated to the nearby middle school’s gymnasium for its entirety.

With Chillicothe’s girls trailing their unusually-low-scoring game against this year’s MEC champion 22-18 after two quarters, while those squads repaired to their locker/dressing rooms, the boys’ teams – as has become customary the past few decades – moved onto the high school gym’s court to do some warmups.

During that arguably-unnecessary process, 6’9” senior center Marc Gustafson of the host Spoofhounds decided to demonstrate the obvious – that he can dunk the ball, but, in doing so, triggered stress on glass backboard which left it intact, but with the glass shattered and obviously unsafe for further use.

As a result, the second half of the game was switched to a nearby auxiliary gym with very limited seating, in which the Lady ’Hounds closed out a 47-34 victory, before everyone packed up again and marched to the middle school gym, where the Hornets dropped a 63-46 verdict.

The outcomes sent Chillicothe’s girls into their Class 4 District 16 Tournament opener against Richmond at home Saturday (Feb. 27) at 1 p.m. with a suddenly-diminished 16-7 record and a 3-games losing streak and the CHS boys into their district-quarterfinals rematch with host Savannah Monday at 6 p.m. with a 14-9 mark.

Both Chillicothe teams concluded conference play with losing marks – the girls unexpectedly dipping to 2-5 and the boys going 3-4.

Thursday’s girls’ contest saw Chillicothe able to control Maryville’s offense much better than it did in MHS’ 67-49 victory in the Cameron Invitational Tournament championship game not quite four weeks earlier, but its own recent scoring struggles rendered that improvement moot.

The Lady Hornets scored only five first-half baskets – merely one inside the 3-points line, but managed to be within 22-18, primarily thanks to freshman Jolie Bonderer’s trio of treys.

Even after the game shifted to the new locale, both sides had difficulty putting the ball in the basket with CHS doing so only once in the third quarter and MHS twice. Because the Lady Spoofhounds’ were trifectas and they also picked up a free throw, their lead grew to 29-20.

The Lady Hornets – at least J. Bonderer and Jessica Reeter – finally picked up the scoring pace in the last eight minutes, but so did Maryville as it widened the final gap to 13 points.

Statistically, J. Bonderer’s 16 tallies led Chillicothe. Rylee Vierthaler tossed in 18 and Serena Sundell and Emily Cassavaugh 11 apiece for Maryville, which has lost only once this season and recently rallied to defeat a state-ranked Class 6 opponent.

Freshman center James Mathew goes up for an uncontested second-period layup during Thursday's (Feb. 25, 2021) 63-46 loss at Maryville. Mathew scored nine points and snared eight rebounds as the Hornets finished the regular season with a 14-9 record.

Once folks shifted about a half-mile down the street to the south to the middle school building’s gym, Maryville’s boys also repeated their Cameron tournament victory over Chillicothe, jumping out to a 22-6 lead after one period before the squads played to a virtual standoff the rest of the way.

The biggest positives to the Hornets’ play was their scoring balance and their avoidance of turnovers.

According to statistics provided by CHS coaches, Wyatt Brandsgaard had a team-high 11 points, Hayden Simmer 10, and freshman James Mathew and Griff Bonderer nine each. However, getting those points required a lot of shots (49), of which Chillicothe made only 37%. The Hornets were four of 21 from outside the arc.

The team stats sheet listed the visitors as committing only nine turnovers. Mathew pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.

Caden Stoecklein’s 21 points led all scorers with Gustafson and Keaton Stone tacking on 12 apiece.