League crown within reach after key victories at home
Tonganoxie created some distance between first and second place after last week's Kaw Valley League action.
The Chieftains dropped Santa Fe Trail, 59-27, on Feb. 7 and used a second-half surge to defeat Lansing, 69-47, on Friday.
Against Santa Fe Trail, the Chieftains struggled slightly in the first quarter as Trail's zone defense caused problems.
THS led by just a 12-6 score after the first, but increased its lead to 29-10 at halftime. It was the third quarter, though, that was most important for Tonganoxie. Santa Fe Trail, for the first time, broke into a full-court press. Tonganoxie handled the defensive switch with ease and cruised to the 32-point victory.
The Chieftains had five players score in double figures with Elizabeth Baska leading the way with 13. Rachel Bogard had 12, while Tracie Hileman, Ali Pistora and Rebecca Bogard each scored 10.
Tonganoxie also outscored SFT, 25-9, in points off turnovers and 12-0 in second-chance points.
THS entered the game with an undefeated league record, while Santa Fe Trail had one loss coming into the game.
On Friday, Tonganoxie again tangled with a team looking to knock off the top dog.
Lansing, like Santa Fe Trail, entered the showdown with one league loss.
And like the Chargers, the Lions left Tonganoxie with loss No. 2, although LHS gave Tonganoxie fits until the fourth quarter. The Lions, ranked No. 9 in Class 5A in the latest Kansas Coaches Basketball Association poll, stayed with Tonganoxie, which now is ranked No. 2 in 4A.
THS jumped to a 20-12 lead after the first quarter, but Lansing responded in the second quarter with a 15-9 run. Trailing, 29-27, at halftime, Lansing tied the game early in the third quarter.
But the determined Lions eventually ran out of gas. At the end of the third quarter, sophomore Christy Weller hit a three-pointer at the buzzer. The bucket pushed Tonganoxie's lead to six and the Chieftains didn't look back in the final quarter. A 23-7 fourth-quarter advantage improved Tonganoxie to 15-1 overall and 9-0 in the KVL, while Lansing fell to 11-5 overall and 8-2 in the KVL.
THS coach Randy Kraft was disappointed in the number of turnovers his squad had against Lansing, but he was happy to get the victory against a solid team.
"Lansing's a much-improved team, even since when they were at our tournament," Kraft said, referring to last month's Tonganoxie Invitational Tournament.
Tonganoxie had chances to put more points on the board in the first half, but the Chieftains missed several point-blank lay-ups. For a team that thrives on transition offense, the missed shots were tough to swallow.
"For some reason, we couldn't get past that block," Kraft said. "We generally don't have that much trouble with it."
Pistora led Tonganoxie with 19, while Rachel Bogard had 10. Baska chipped in nine for THS.
Pistora was pleased with the end result, but said the team didn't open the game with the right mindset.
"At the start, we were trying to be individuals and that's not who we are," Pistora.
Tonganoxie played Tuesday at Piper and will travel Friday to Shawnee to take on Mill Valley. THS ends the season with games next Tuesday at Perry-Lecompton and Feb. 24 at Basehor-Linwood.
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