Free-throw shooting pushes St. Mary’s past Tonganoxie
Late in a tight game, Tonganoxie pulled to within two of St. Mary's twice Friday in Tonganoxie.
The Chieftains just needed to foul a Bear and rebound a missed free throw.
Good luck with all of that.
St. Mary's final seven points were from the free-throw line. Leading 67-63, the Bears went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe en route to a 73-65 win in the season opener for both schools.
Overall, St. Mary's was a whopping 21-for-26 from the line in a game that had seven lead changes.
"They shot very well from the free-throw line," THS coach David Walker said. "I need to give them credit."
St. Mary's also connected from outside.
Ryan VandeVelde, who scored 16, knocked in three three-pointers, as did Steve Kinderknecht, who scored a game-high 26.
"They shot the ball from the outside really well, which causes you to extend your defense more than you want to," Walker said.
Tonganoxie actually had more three-point shots with seven. Kirk Rodell, who finished with 22, had three. For fellow senior Sam Mitchell, nine of his 13 points came from three-point land. Another senior, Levi Huseman had Tonganoxie's seventh three-point shot. He finished with seven points.
But the Chieftains couldn't keep up with the Bears.
Tonganoxie went just 8-for-18 from the free-throw line. St. Mary's also exposed Tonganoxie's transition defense.
On some occasions, a solid Tonganoxie score would be followed by a quick St. Mary's score at the other end.
"We've addressed that pretty hard," Walker said about practice this week. "The fact that we've got to get somebody back."
Walker chalks some of those mistakes up to inexperience and noted "those are fixable things."
Tonganoxie had the height advantage. THS senior Michael Morris stands at 6-7, while St. Mary's tallest player was senior Rasmus Haass at 6-5.
Morris finished the game with six points, but sat on the bench for much of the second half because of foul trouble.
Morris picked up his fourth foul early in the second half.
In future games, Walker said Tonganoxie would need to adjust to defensive schemes with a player like Morris in the lineup.
"We're just going to have to face reality that most teams are going to zone us up," Walker said. "We have a big body inside and quick guards."
With that in mind, Tonganoxie has focused more putting its first team against a zone defense in practice.
Tonganoxie defeated St. Mary's last season, but the Bears, led by nine seniors, improved to 1-0, while the Chieftains fell to 0-1.
Tonganoxie now will focus on the Trojan Tip-off in Osawatomie.
The Chieftains played Osawatomie on Tuesday and will play either De Soto or Central Heights on Thursday.
Tonganoxie played all three of those teams last season, but the other side of the bracket features Anderson County, Burlington, Chanute and Wellsville. Burlington was last year's Class 3A state champion.
With a win against Osawatomie, Tonganoxie would play at 8 p.m. Thursday. A loss would have the Chieftains playing at 5 p.m. Thursday. Saturday's game will be at 2 p.m. (fifth-place game), 3:30 p.m. (seventh-place), 5 p.m. (third place) and 6:30 p.m. (chamionship).
Log on to www.tonganoxiemirror.com this week for updates on the Chieftains at the Trojan Tip-off.
St. Mary's 17 15 21 20 -- 73
Tonganoxie 16 15 14 20 -- 65
St. Mary's (1-0) -- Ryan VandeVelde 16, Steve Kinderknecht 26, Andrew Core 16, Michael Weddle 13, Richard Budden 2.
Tonganoxie (0-1) -- Robert Kirch 3, Kirk Rodell 22, Sam Mitchell 13, Levi Huseman 7, Jeff Hughes 2, Bryan Morris 4, Michael Morris 6, Daniel Workman 8.