Chieftains survive scare
Tonganoxie girls rally for win, remain undefeated
The state-ranked Tonganoxie High girls basketball team had its hands full Friday at Bonner Springs.
But on a night that saw Tonganoxie's all-state candidate Ali Pistora struggle to score, the Chieftains once again proved to be much more than a one-dimensional team.
Pistora, plagued by foul trouble throughout the game, did her share in other statistical categories.
She finished with 11 rebounds, four steals and six assists. But in the points column, the junior managed just three field goals and 11 points.
That's where senior Kelley Stauch and junior Rachel Bogard came in.
Bogard scored 14 points and Stauch added 8, but it wasn't the totals that meant as much as the timing of their points.
Most of Bogard's team-high 14 points came with Pistora on the bench in foul trouble. When the Chieftains had trouble finding ways to score, Bogard discovered a way. She went 4-for-7 from the field and 6-for-8 from the free throw line, and her points were critical in Tonganoxie's comeback effort.
In the end, Tonganoxie pulled out an exciting 44-43 victory in its Kaw Valley League opener.
"It's probably a wake-up call," THS coach Randy Kraft said. "I think they might have been taking them too lightly.
"I told some of them (Tonganoxie players) they have been reading too many of their press clippings."
The Chieftains trailed for almost the entire game, as a much-improved Bonner Springs team employed a 3-2 zone to frustrate Tonganoxie into 27 turnovers. Bonner Springs jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead behind a pair of easy baskets. Pistora gave the Chieftains a 5-4 lead midway through the first quarter, but Bonner Springs took it back on the very next possession. The Chieftains did not lead again until the final seconds of the contest. That's when Stauch entered the picture.
Tonganoxie trailed 14-10 after one quarter. The Chieftains trailed by just one (26-25) at the break. And after three quarters of play, Tonganoxie fell behind by six points. On a night in which nothing seemed to go right, the six-point deficit seemed steep.
Tonganoxie tied the game three times in the third quarter, but could not forge ahead.
When Bonner Springs' Taryn Lane opened the fourth quarter with a jump shot, the Bravettes led by eight. With 6:08 to play, and her team down six, Pistora missed the front end of a one-and-one trip to the free throw line. As if that weren't bad enough, 13 seconds later she picked up her fourth foul.
With his team trailing, Kraft knew he could not afford to have his best player sitting next to him. After a little more than a minute on the sidelines, Pistora re-entered the contest with 4:39 to play.
After Bogard cut the deficit to 40-36, Pistora connected on one of two free throws and cut the gap to three with 3:20 remaining.
At the 2:22 mark, Stauch buried her first bucket of the game, a three-pointer that once again tied the contest.
Knotted at 40, Bonner Springs' Tiffany Starks connected on one of two free throws with 1:38 to play. The points were Bonner Springs' first since the opening minute of the quarter. With a little more than a minute to play, Tonganoxie got four cracks at the lead. All four fell short.
The first was a jumper from Pistora. It missed short. But sophomore Elizabeth Baska grabbed the rebound and attempted a shot of her own.
She, too, missed, got her own rebound and missed again.
Finally, Stauch grabbed the rebound and missed a shot as she fell away from the basket. Lane grabbed the rebound for Bonner Springs, and with 1:05 to play, things looked bleak for the Chieftains.
Bonner Springs took possession and ran off 30 seconds under intense pressure before being fouled. Starks calmly stepped to the line and swished both free throws and gave Bonner Springs a 43-40 lead with 33 seconds to play.
After the make, Pistora rushed the ball up the floor and found Stauch in the corner all alone. She set her feet and buried her second three-pointer of the quarter, this one tying things up with 22 seconds to play.
After advancing the ball up the floor, Bonner Springs coach Garold Baker called time out with 9.1 seconds left in the game.
Out of the time out, Bonner Springs found Lane for a 20-footer with 4.5 seconds remaining on the clock. The shot caromed hard off the backboard and a mad scramble ensued. As the bodies piled up and the horn sounded, one official had blown her whistle, calling Starks for a loose-ball foul. Baker went nuts. The Tonganoxie fans did the same.
Emerging from the pile with a sly grin on her face was Stauch, the hero of the fourth quarter. Now, with 1.3 seconds remaining on the clock -- put back by the officials after sorting out the madness -- Stauch stepped to the line for two free throws, knowing that one would likely win the ball game.
The first rimmed out, but was oh-so-close to falling. That made the second one tougher, as the Bonner Springs crowd grew louder and the pressure began to mount. But after hitting the back of the rim and softly dancing on the iron, the ball fell through and the Lady Chieftains led 44-43.
Stauch's free throw gave Tonganoxie its first lead since the first quarter. And when Kelsey Stanbrough's desperation, full-court heave hit the rim and bounced awry, the Chieftains had survived.
Tonganoxie had a rough game from the field, shooting just 29.3 percent (12-for-41). Bonner Springs wasn't much better, shooting at a 38.5 percent clip (15-for-39). Free-throw shooting, though, wasn't a problem for either team. Tonganoxie went 17-for-27 from the line, good for 63 percent. Bonner Springs was 10-for-14 -- 71.4 percent.
The loss dropped Bonner Springs to 1-1 in the Kaw Valley League and 2-4 overall.
The victory, meanwhile, improved Tonganoxie to 1-0 in the KVL and 5-0 overall.
The undefeated record marks Kraft's best start in his three seasons at Tonganoxie, but the longtime coach isn't too concerned with the record.
"That and a dollar will still buy you a Coke," Kraft said with a sly grin. "It's good for our team, but ultimately we're looking to improve each game."
Tonganoxie returns to action Jan. 3 with another league game -- at Lansing. The girls will play their first home game Jan. 6 against Mill Valley.
Tonganoxie 44, Bonner 43
Score by quarters
Tonganoxie 10 15 7 12 -- 44
Bonner 14 12 12 5 -- 43
Tonganoxie -- Ra. Bogard 14, Pistora 11, Stauch 7, Baska 5, Hileman 3, Weller 3, Carlin 2.
Bonner Springs -- Delladio 9, Starks 8, Stanbrough 8, Lane 5, Johnson 5, Crouch 4, Zarate 2, Leipard 2.
By the numbers
Free throws: THS 17-27, BSHS 10-14.
Three-pointers: THS 3-10, BSHS 3-11.
Field goals: THS 12-41 (29.3 percent), BSHS 15-39 (38.5 percent). Points off bench: BSHS 10, THS 7; rebounds, THS 38, BSHS 25.
Kaw Valley League standings
W L W L
Lansing 2 0 3 2
Bishop Ward 1 0 2 2
Perry-Lecompton 1 0 2 1
Santa Fe Trail 1 0 1 2
Tonganoxie 1 0 5 0
Bonner Springs 1 1 2 4
Basehor-Linwood 0 1 1 2
Immaculata 0 1 1 1
Mill Valley 0 2 1 2
Perry-Lecompton 0 1 0 1
Piper 0 1 0 1
Upcoming Tonganoxie games
Jan. 3 at Lansing
Jan. 6 MILL VALLEY
Jan. 10 IMMACULATA
Jan. 13 BASEHOR-LINWOOD
Jan. 16-21 TONGANOXIE INVITE
Jan. 27 BONNER SPRINGS