Archive for Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Silver, not gold

THS girls endure first loss of season in championship

January 25, 2006

Silver Lake didn't allow the host team to repeat as Tonganoxie Invitational Tournament champions.

In a title game that resembled a substate championship, the Class 3A Eagles used a furious late rally to force overtime against the 4A Chieftains.

And in the extra period, Silver Lake pulled ahead for a 61-56 victory before a raucous crowd at Phil Lobb Gymnasium.

Midway through the fourth quarter, THS appeared on its way to a second consecutive Tonganoxie tournament, thanks to its leading scorer.

THS junior Ali Pistora went on a scoring spree in the fourth quarter that padded Tonganoxie's lead at 47-40. With her team leading 41-40, Pistora went up for a shot, but it was blocked. She grabbed her own rebound and scored, putting the Chieftains up by three. After four successful free throws, Pistora pushed her team's lead to seven in the closing minutes.

But Silver Lake had an answer.

Silver Lake standout Stephanie Bryant scored five straight points and pulled Silver Lake to within two at 47-45. Tonganoxie's Elizabeth Baska scored another goal for THS, pushing the Chieftains' lead to 49-45. But another Bryant field goal, coupled with a teammate's basket after her missed free throw, tied the game at 49.

In overtime, Tonganoxie jumped ahead by two, but Bryant, who finished with 32 points, eventually put the Eagles ahead with a free throw. With a 54-53 advantage, Silver Lake led for the first time -- and then held on for its first Tonganoxie tournament crown.

"Games like this build character," said THS coach Randy Kraft, whose team suffered its first defeat of the season and fell to 11-1.

Last year, Tonganoxie edged Silver Lake, 34-33, for its first crown at its home tourney.

Bryant, a senior, celebrated her 18th birthday with a tournament title and a Most Valuable Player trophy.

"She's a phenomenal player for us," Silver Lake coach Loren Ziegler said. "I'll go to the bank with her."

Silver Lake improved to 9-3 on the season with the win against THS.

"I've been in some wars through the years," Ziegler said. "But this is one of the best I've been in.

"Nobody plays defense like Tonganoxie."

Pistora finished the game with 18 after fouling out with 30 seconds left in overtime. The junior battled back from sickness after missing the tournament quarterfinals Tuesday.

"At the start of the day I wasn't feeling all that great," Pistora said. "I was trying to keep my mind over matter."

Pistora had four fouls in the fourth quarter. Subsequently, she sat out for some time with foul trouble.

"The kids did a good job when she was out," Kraft said.

Elizabeth Baska and Rachel Bogard also scored in double figures for THS with 12 each. After the game, Pistora and Bogard were named to the all-tournament team.

Although Tonganoxie had a long winning streak that started with the season-opening win at St. Marys, last year's squad had a longer streak -- 20 games. The Chieftains opened the season at 2-2 and then didn't lose again until the 4A state semifinals against Buhler, a game that also ended in overtime.

Kraft said this year's team would learn from Saturday's loss.

"Win or lose this game, it's going to help us," Kraft said. "It showed us who wants to step up, who gets tentative."

Tonganoxie 64, Jeff West 45

Same road, new year.

The Tonganoxie High girls team defeated Jeff West, 64-45, Friday in the tournament semifinals. The win advanced the Chieftains to the championship game against Silver Lake -- Tonganoxie's foe in last year's finals.

Last season, Tonganoxie also defeated Jeff West in the tourney semifinals after defeating Atchison in the first round. Atchison, coincidentally, was Tonganoxie's first-round victim last season.

On Friday, Tonganoxie didn't score its first basket until the 5:55 mark of the first quarter. After that, though, the Chieftain offense clicked. THS went on a 7-0 run and ended the first quarter with a 19-5 lead.

Jeff West battled back in the second quarter, putting together an 11-2 run of its own.

At halftime, Tonganoxie led, 31-22. Jeff West cut the lead to seven early in the third, but the Tigers would get no closer.

Tonganoxie pulled away for the 19-point victory, continuing a string of recent routs for the Chieftains. In Tonganoxie's previous three wins, the Chieftains won by 30 or more.

Overall, Kraft liked his team's performance against the Tigers.

"During the second quarter, we had a few mistakes on offense and we had some bad fouls on our part," Kraft said.

The Chieftains overcame that lapse as Tonganoxie scored several transition points against the Tigers. Transition was an aspect of the game Kraft said was key for Tonganoxie.

Rachel Bogard paced THS with a career-high 22 points, while Pistora scored 10.

"We came out with intensity, but it took a little while for us to kick it in," Bogard said.

The win was Tonganoxie's third straight against Jeff West.

Tonganoxie 49, Atchison 18

THS didn't miss a beat against Atchison in the tournament opener Jan. 17.

Pistora didn't play because of illness, but Tonganoxie still put up plenty of points without its scoring leader.

THS held Atchison to three points in both the second and third quarters.

Rachel Bogard led THS in scoring with 14.

For line scores and stats from Tonganoxie's tournament games, go to www.tonganoxiemirror.com.

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