Chieftains salvage win for seventh
Girls defeat 6A Wyandotte in Free State tournament
Tonganoxie High's girls' basketball team capped a grueling three days at the Firebird Winter Classic with a 42-38 win against Kansas City-Wyandotte on Saturday at Lawrence Free State High School.
THS (4-9) had opened with lopsided losses to Hutchinson and Free State the first two days.
"It's hard to play three games in three days especially against (Class) 6A teams," THS coach Leslie Foster said. "I think it's a good experience because now we're going to go back to playing 4A teams. It's like practicing with the weighted ball. It gets easier once you take the weight off."
In the seventh-place game, the Chieftains trailed the Bulldogs 36-33 after three quarters. Sparked by seven points from senior Alicia Stauch, THS outscored Wyandotte 9-2 in the fourth quarter to eke out the victory.
"Defensively we did a nice job," Foster said of the comeback win against Wyandotte. "After playing two big games, I was glad to come back and pull out a win."
Seniors Aimee Eisman (13 points) and Andrea Korb (11) scored in double figures, leading Tonganoxie against Wyandotte.
Though weary after the Saturday contest, Eisman was satisfied with the victory against the Bulldogs.
"It's tiring," said Eisman, who scored 29 points in three games at the tournament. "It's tough to play three games right in a row compared to what we normally play. It was a relief to know we could win one."
Korb was steady throughout the tournament, scoring 10, 11 and 11 points.
She was Tonganoxie's top scorer in the tournament.
On Thursday, the Chieftains opened with a 74-32 loss to No. 1 seed and eventual tourney champion Hutchinson. The Chieftains trailed the Salt Hawks 50-9 at halftime. THS hung with Hutch in the second half when it was outscored 24-23 in the final 16 minutes.
"I think we had some jitters, but I think we showed in the second half we could play basketball," Foster said following the loss to Hutch, last year's Class 6A runner-up.
Host Free State beat Tonganoxie, 52-38, on Friday. The Chieftains had a balanced offense with Stauch (12), Korb (10) and Eisman (10) scoring in double figures.
For the tournament, THS shot 30-for-51 (58.8 percent) from the free-throw line. Eisman was effective at the line, connecting on 15 of 21 attempts (71.4 percent).
THS won't be at the Firebird Winter Classic next January. Instead, the Chieftains will play in the competitive Capital City Classic in Topeka.
Tonganoxie returns to Kaw Valley League action Friday with a home game against De Soto. Tonganoxie will also play at Basehor on Monday after the game was postponed because of bad weather Tuesday.
The tournament took a back seat Friday evening when Lawrence High's team learned of a death close to the players.
LHS sophomore Jodie Cochrane and her teammates learned after their win against Sumnner that Patrick Cochrane, Jodie's father, had apparently committed suicide about two hours before the game started.
The Lions advanced to the tournament finals with the win, but school officials considered canceling the game.
Lawrence did play against Hutchinson in the championship Saturday, and Jodie Cochrane fittingly was the Lions' top scorer and rebounder with 11 and six respectively. Hutchinson won the tournament with a 71-41 win.
Ready for a peaceful night at home
Tonganoxie hasn't played a home game since Jan. 4, but will return to Phil Lobb Gymnasium on Friday when De Soto comes to town. The Chieftains have played six consecutive games three at the Free State tournament on the road after opening the season with five out of seven games at home. The Chieftains are 1-4 at home this season.