Basketball Lady Hornets cruised at home, then hit road
Chillicothe girls swamped Richmond in district opener Saturda y, then visited Benton
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
Chillicothe High School’s basketball Lady Hornets had a chance to take some of the sting out of a disappointing late-season run – especially during Midland Empire Conference play – when they visited St. Joseph: Benton for a Class 4 District 16 Tournament semifinal game last night. If they didn’t, a still-impressive season has now gone in the books.
Having shredded Richmond a second time – 55-16 on this occasion – in last Saturday’s district opener, the third-seeded Lady Hornets (17-7) hoped to avenge a Feb. 4 back-and-forth 45-44 home loss to second-seeded Benton’s Lady Cardinals.
Chillicothe, 14-3 entering that contest, led early, fell behind by as many as seven points a few times, rallied to lead again late in the third quarter, dropped back by five with under three minutes remaining, then went on a 8-2 surge to gain a 44-43 lead with 28 seconds left. However, after denying Benton a good look at the basket for most of the remaining time, the Lady Hornets allowed a pass to a wide-open BHS player who had not previously scored and she hit a point-blank shot with three seconds to go to win it.
Whether that stunning setback rattled the CHS girls’ confidence or not, as subsequent results and play suggest it might have, the Lady Hornets gained the chance to erase it from their memory banks last night. If successful, they will play for the district championship tomorrow night – either at Maryville or at home against fifth seed Savannah, which eliminated Cameron 28-23 in last Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Chillicothe’s girls were a virtual lock to eliminate young, small Richmond last weekend, having obliterated the Lady Spartans 73-13 in a January meeting in the Lawson Invitational Tournament.
The margin surely could have been just as large this go-around, had CHS coach Darren Smith wanted it to be, but, not surprisingly, he utilized reserves very early and often.
Still, the first quarter ended with a 21-1 Lady Hornets lead as, against the overwhelmed RHS defense and on the familiar home court, Chillicothe sizzled early from 3-points range. Sophomore guard Jessica Reeter knocked down three treys and freshman Jolie Bonderer two in the opening stanza.
Richmond did flare to life, offensively, a bit in the second quarter as Haylee Weber connected three times from outside the arc. However, those ended up being the only three baskets the Lady Spartans got the entire game, scoring the remainder of their points with 7-of-11 free-throw shooting.
Chillicothe, on the other hand, didn’t score from the foul line, but did knock down 11 trifectas and 11 2-points shots.
J. Reeter went on to can five triples, missing only twice from deep, and score a game-high 19 points. She also earned a team-high eight assists, two more than Essie Hicks. Bonderer posted 12 points to go with seven rebounds.