Righting the ship
Chieftains drop Piper Pirates, register first post-season victory since 2001
The Chieftains almost forgot how sweet victory truly tastes.
It wasn't as though the current girls team members hadn't gobbled on wins this year. THS, after all, went 16-4 and entered Monday's substate quarterfinals with a No. 2 seed.
But those victories didn't quite have the finger-lickin' goodness of Monday's win against No. 7 Piper.
After two years of first-round exits, this morsel of a victory was quite tasty.
Tonganoxie topped Piper, 62-41, and secured a berth in the Class 4A substate quarterfinals Thursday in Lansing against Eudora.
The last time Tonganoxie won a substate game, this year's seniors were freshmen.
Senior Sarah Holliday, however, knew where Tonganoxie was and where it was going.
"I knew about Tonganoxie's basketball history," said Holliday, who originally went to school at McLouth. "I knew we had a good upcoming group of seniors."
The Chieftains' ticket to the semifinals, however, wasn't automatically punched in Monday's contest.
Early on, Tonganoxie's transition offense wasn't in high gear against the Pirates. And when the Chieftains set up in a half-court offense, Piper responded by bruising down low against Tonganoxie post threats Addie Heim and Ali Pistora.
And in the third quarter, Piper threatened to upset the Chieftains with a short run that put the Pirates behind by just six.
Tonganoxie, though, had an answer for every Piper charge.
The Chieftains still scored 32 points in the first half, Heim scored a game-high 15 and Piper never would come closer than six. Thanks to a five-point fourth quarter, Piper couldn't keep up and PHS was sent home as their season ended at 5-15.
Senior Ashley Sanders was a force inside for Piper, scoring 10 for the Pirates. She tied fellow senior Amanda Woolley as Piper's leading scorers.
Along with Heim, Tonganoxie countered with three players in or near double figures -- Maddie Weller with 13 and Holliday and Kelly Breuer each with nine.
Breuer's tally included a three-pointer.
"Kraft thinks I'm a three-point shooter," Breuer said of her coach, Randy Kraft. "He encourages me to shoot them."
As Breuer and her three fellow seniors -- Holliday, Michelle McWilliams and Katie Jeannin -- came out of the game for the final time with a 1:43 left, the THS student section started chanting "All the way to state."
Two more steps forward and that will be the case, but the Chieftains (17-4) must muscle through No. 3 Eudora (15-6) on Thursday.
The game will be a rematch for many players on both sides of the ball. In late October, the teams squared off in Lansing in the substate volleyball semifinals. In that tournament, No. 3 Tonganoxie upended No. 2 Eudora in three games.
On Thursday, Tonganoxie is the No. 2 seed and Eudora is No. 3, but the venue again will be in Lansing.
With a win there, the Chieftains would be in tournament finals and the THS student section likely would be yelling the same battle cry.
The ever-cautious Kraft obviously isn't making hotel reservations in Salina.
"It's way too early for that," the coach said.
Tonganoxie 57, Bonner Springs 40
The Chieftains finished the regular season with eight consecutive wins.
On Friday, Tonganoxie assembled another impressive streak.
Trailing early, 8-2, against Bonner Springs, the Chieftains reeled off 21 unanswered points. The stranglehold lasted much of the first quarter and nearly four minutes of the second period.
Down 23-8, Bonner Springs notched a three-point shot with 4:18 left in the half and cut the lead to 12.
"We live off runs," THS coach Randy Kraft said. "Our defense nags at you."
Bonner Springs, however, fought back after the lengthy drought. The Braves went on a 9-4 run just before the half and cut the score to single digits at 25-17. Bonner Springs had four three-pointers on the night, but the Braves never would come closer than eight.
Addie Heim's game-high 22 helped the Chieftains to the 57-40 Kaw Valley League victory as Tonganoxie finished the regular season at 16-4 overall and 12-1 in league play.
Bonner Springs' offensive threat Nyse Pinks again gave the Chieftains some problems. The senior scored 19, but only three other Braves scored in the loss.
"They presented a tough match-up for us," Kraft said. "Pinks can penetrate."
Ali Pistora also was in double figures for Tonganoxie with 11. Michelle McWilliams contributed nine in her final regular season game.
Tonganoxie already had the No. 2 substate seed locked up, but the Chieftains improved on their first meeting with the Braves which went into overtime before THS prevailed.
On Friday, Kraft still noted one area that needed improvement despite Tonganoxie's recent streak.
"We still haven't put 32 minutes together," Kraft said.
Tonganoxie 73, Imac 37
Last season, Tonganoxie scored a monumental win by defeating the Raiders for the first time since 1991.
Last week, The Chieftains took another step toward evening the score.
A stifling defense pounded the Raiders on Feb. 24, forcing turnovers and helping the offense register a 73-37 pounding in Tonganoxie. Addie Heim led all scorers with 21; Ali Pistora (14) and Michelle McWilliams (10) also were in double figures for the Chieftains. The Chieftains led 36-13 at the half and never looked back.
Tonganoxie 73, Imac 37
Immaculata 4 9 12 12 -- 37
Tonganoxie 19 17 20 17 -- 73
Immaculata -- Winkelbauer 2, Bassett 4, Donnelson 13, Lemm 3, Vosseler 1, Ezell 9, Meyer 5.
Tonganoxie -- Michelle McWilliams 10, Ali Pistora 14, Addie Heim 21, Maddie Weller 8, Katie Jeannin 5, Rebecca Bogard 2, Laura Jeannin 4, Heather Deaver 2, Sarah Holliday 7.
Tonganoxie 57, Bonner 40
Bonner 8 9 16 7 -- 40
Tonganoxie 12 13 19 13 -- 57
Bonner Springs -- Pinks 19, Elmer 5, Johnson 14, Lane 2.
Tonganoxie -- Michelle McWilliams 9, Ali Pistora 11, Addie Heim 22, Maddie Weller 4, Katie Jeannin 2, Kelly Breuer 2, Laura Jeannin 1, Sarah Holliday 6.
Tonganoxie 62, Piper 41
Piper 8 16 12 5 -- 41
Tonganoxie 17 15 15 15 -- 62
Piper (5-16) -- Hollander 8, Woolley 10, Kaminski 2, Wolfe 2, Sanders 10, Kiblinger 7, McKinley 2.
Tonganoxie (17-4) -- Michelle McWilliams 6, Ali Pistora 4, Addie Heim 15, Maddie Weller 13, Katie Jeannin 6, Kelly Breuer 9, Sarah Holliday 9.