Chieftain girls rolling at break
The bad news for the Tonganoxie girls basketball team was that it missed a lot of shots in a game last week at De Soto, the final contest before a two-week winter break.
The good news was that the Chieftains could generate those shots in the first place and that they had little trouble rebounding the ball time and time again and putting it back up until they finally got one to fall.
Tonganoxie bested De Soto on the boards and in every other aspect of the game, handing the Wildcats a 64-39 beating Dec. 19 and ensuring the Chieftains would have a few bright thoughts to keep them warm during the long break.
"We played pretty well," Tonganoxie coach Randy Kraft said. "Our first three games we played well, then last Friday wasn't a game we wanted to finish before break on, but (Dec. 19) the kids got together and played well."
Kraft was referring to a game Dec. 15 in which the Chiftains led by 19 in the second half against Lansing, only to watch Lansing rally and nearly win in a 44-42 Tonganoxie win.
Tonganoxie's Shannon Carlin led the way with 15 points and Ali Pistora poured in 12, but it said a lot about the evening that the Chieftains were able to win so convincingly and those two were the only players in double figures.
Ten different players scored in a game that the Chieftains took control of early.
"We have a lot of balance and a lot of those kids on the bench played on our varsity last year," Kraft said. "Now they're a year older, so we have a lot of depth."
THS wasted little time. Pistora scored her first basket early in the first quarter for a 9-0 lead and Carlin added a 3-pointer a minute later to make it 12-3.
Pistora sank two free throws and scored a bucket and drew a foul that lead to another free throw, and Carlin added another basket and her second trey, all before De Soto could score a basket in the second quarter.
"Carlin played one of her best games," Kraft said. "She didn't force things and just took what was there. "It was one of her better games of the year, but we didn't have anyone that had a poor game."
By the time the Wildcats finally managed to break through the Chieftain defense for their seventh and eighth points of the game, THS had a 22-point lead.
DHS had trouble even getting the ball down the court and turned it over 17 times in the first half.
"That's the way we play. We stress defense and we plan on getting points off of our defense," Kraft said. "We didn't always get it done, but we did a good job of it. The kids understand that if we're not pressuring the ball, it makes it harder to defend, so we rely a lot on our ball pressure."
THS took a 32-12 lead into halftime, but better play by De Soto and some subbing by the Chieftains kept the second half from becoming a total runaway.
Tonganoxie will return to action Jan. 5 against Bonner Springs in what will be the team's first home game of the season.