Chieftains split games at Bonner
The Tonganoxie High School basketball teams traveled to Bonner Springs on Friday night and took part in two very different, yet incredibly similar, games.
In a split with the Braves, the Tonganoxie girls rolled to their 11th win, 50-31, while the Chieftain boys fell, 63-43, in Kaw Valley League action.
The games were nearly mirror images of one another, as both victors jumped out early and cruised to easy wins.
For the Chieftain girls, that meant riding the strong play of sophomore Ali Pistora, yet again.
Pistora scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the first half, and the Chieftains led by as many as 12 points before entering the locker room with a 26-16 lead.
After a hot start, Bonner Springs fell behind midway through the first quarter when Pistora began to score at will. However, after struggling to score for most of the second quarter, a 4-0 mini-run in the final minute of the half pulled the Bravettes within eight points at 24-16.
But in the waning seconds of the half, Tonganoxie's Rebecca Bogard scored an uncontested layup to push the margin back to 10.
Bogard's bucket not only bumped the Chieftains' lead back to double digits, but also set the tone for the second half.
"She's getting more confidence every game," said Randy Kraft, Tonganoxie's girls coach. "She saw the opening for the lane to the basket and saw it with time running down and took it."
The THS lead increased to 14 early in the third quarter, after Pistora and Laura Jeannin connected on jumpers, and was blown wide open when the team closed the quarter with an 11-0 run.
Junior Kelley Stauch scored the final five points of the quarter, helping the Chieftains increase their lead to 41-19 at the end of three quarters of play. Tonganoxie outscored Bonner Springs 15-3 in the third, and the fourth was merely a formality.
Addie Heim joined Pistora in leading the scoring for the Lady Chieftains, as she poured in seven points as part of a balanced THS attack. Stauch finished with five points, and Jeannin, Elizabeth Baska and Heather Deaver all chipped in four points a piece.
Although the game proved to be much tougher than the first time these two locked up, the Chieftains controlled the game with their size, execution and discipline.
And it was defense that set the tone in the first quarter.
"Our defense played real well, particularly early," Kraft said. "It kind of got us a lead."
That continued throughout the game against a perimeter-heavy Bonner Springs team.
"Bonner has a lot of three-point shooters," Kraft said. "We didn't allow them too many looks at the three and still we were able to do pretty well on the boards. "Anytime you spread you defense out like that you kind of get concerned about rebounding."
In late action Friday night, the Tonganoxie boys suffered the same fate that its girls dished out, as the Bonner Springs Braves got up early and coasted to an easy 63-43 victory.
In many ways, the boys game mirrored the girls game, with the Braves acting the part of the Chieftain girls.
Bonner Springs used a combination of size, speed and discipline to fluster the Chieftains guards throughout the contest. Although the Braves appeared to be in control most of the way, Tonganoxie remained scrappy and battled for much of the game. At the end of the first quarter, the Chieftains trailed by just four, 16-12.
After falling behind 12-4, Tonganoxie unleashed an 8-0 run and tied the score at 12-12 before Bonner Springs countered with an 8-0 run of its own and regained the momentum.
Senior Michael Morris scored six of his 12 points in the first quarter, and was very effective when left to work against single coverage. However, it was clear that the Braves were not planning to allow Morris good looks inside, as they double- and even triple-teamed him in the post all night.
"A couple times we didn't hold our composure as well as we could have," THS boys coach David Walker said. "In the second quarter we didn't take our time."
Much the way the Chieftain girls dominated the third quarter, the Braves dominated the second, outscoring the Chieftains 23-6 in the second stanza to open up a 39-18 halftime lead.
Bonner Springs guard Toine Barber, who was also named Courtwarming King at halftime, led all scorers with 16 points. Ten of those came in the second quarter.
Tonganoxie's Sam Mitchell drained a three-pointer early on in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 14, but that was as close as Tonganoxie would get. Bonner Springs led by as many as 22 before emptying its bench and riding out the 63-43 victory.
Sophomore Jeff Hughes aided the Chieftains' scoring effort with eight points. Seniors Sam Mitchell and Kirk Rodell chipped in seven and six points, respectively. And Zach Pistora added four.
The Tonganoxie boys fell to 3-10 with the loss to Bonner Springs. THS played Tuesday at Kansas City Kansas Community College against Bishop Ward and will be in action again this Tuesday against Santa Fe Trail in Tonganoxie. The Chieftains will have a rare open date on Friday as the team prepares for SFT.
"When you get to this point in the season it's nice to have a day off to let your legs have some rest," Walker said.
The THS girls, 11-2 after the Bonner Springs victory, also played Bishop Ward Tuesday and will travel to rural Overbrook next Tuesday to take on Santa Fe Trail.
Although the Chieftains are undefeated in the KVL, Ward and Trail are on their heals. Both have just one loss in league play -- and they were against each other.
"We're going to have two pretty good tests," Kraft said. "We'll kind of see where we're at."