Girls squeak past Braves in OT
Surprise, surprise -- the Tonganoxie High girls basketball team battled through a physical game Friday in Bonner Springs.
That's been the theme this year for the Chieftains. But on Friday, Tonganoxie had to muscle its way through an extra period for the first time this season before clinching a Kaw Valley League victory.
Trailing 42-40 in the final minute of regulation, THS junior Addie Heim stepped to the free-throw line for two shots. After missing the crucial front-end shot, Heim was off target again in her second attempt, but fellow post Ali Pistora grabbed the rebound and dropped in the bucket to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, Pistora and Heim again were key. They continued to get the ball down low. The duo recorded most of the overtime scoring and finished the game as the Chieftains' top scorers -- Pistora with 13 and Heim with 12.
"We got it down where we needed, which was in the low post," Pistora said.
And when the Chieftains didn't score, they were fouled. Bonner Springs was whistled for 20 fouls, in contrast to Tonganoxie's 15.
The Chieftains went to the line 30 times, but made just 12. Bonner Springs, meanwhile, went 9-for-17.
Heim has experienced the free-throw woes as of late. The junior made an occasional free throw on Friday, but she couldn't get into a rhythm during a game in which she headed to the charity stripe frequently.
But finally, in overtime, Heim hit two consecutive free throws and put the Chieftains ahead, 50-49. THS had trailed 49-46, but Heim scored from the field with 2:18 left and then pushed the Chieftains ahead with her two free throws.
"I think it was all mental," said Heim, referring to her free-throw troubles. "It felt good to put down a couple even though I've been struggling."
Tonganoxie shot out of the gate to open the game, taking a 12-5 lead after the first quarter. Bonner Springs outscored the visiting Chieftains in the second quarter, but THS still had a 24-20 advantage at the half.
The game was the most exciting one this season from a spectator's standpoint, but Tonganoxie coach Randy Kraft wasn't pleased with his defense for the first time this year.
"The intensity, it was there," Kraft said. "But mentally, it wasn't there."
After starting the season 1-2 in the Anderson County Tournament, the Chieftains have responded with a 4-1 KVL record.
The Chieftains, though, will take a slight break from league play with the inaugural Tonganoxie Invitational girls tournament.
KVL teams Lansing and Immaculata also will be in the tournament, but the games won't count toward the league standings.
The Chieftains opened the tournament Tuesday against unfamiliar foe Hogan Prep from Kansas City, Mo. With a win, Tonganoxie would play Lansing at 6 p.m. Friday. With a loss, the Chieftains would play at 6 p.m. Thursday against Pleasant Ridge.
"It's somebody who, on paper, is shorter than we are," Kraft said Friday about playing Hogan. "That's all I know."
Results from that game and all of the Tonganoxie Invitational action can be found in next week's edition of The Mirror.
Tonganoxie 53, Bonner Springs 51 (OT)
Tonganoxie 12 12 8 12 9 -- 53
Bonner Springs 5 15 13 11 7 -- 51
Tonganoxie (5-3) -- McWilliams 2, Pistora 13, Heim 12, Weller 6, K. Jeannin 2, Breuer 10, Holliday 8. Totals 20 12-30 53
Bonner Springs (2-6) -- Crouch 6, Zarate 10, Pinks 24, Johnson 10, Lane 1. Totals 20 9-17 51.