THS boys make history at home
Friday night, for the first time in recent memory, it was the Tonganoxie High boys who stole the spotlight in the series between Bonner Springs and THS.
Buoyed by five wins in their first five games, the Chieftains entered Friday's contest expecting to face their toughest test to date. As it turned out, they were right, and it took every second of regulation and a few more for the THS boys to come out on top with a 65-62 overtime victory.
It was the first win for Tonganoxie against Bonner Springs since BSHS joined the Kaw Valley League in the fall of 2002. In fact, THS athletics director Brandon Parker thought it was the first time in some 20 years the Chieftains prevailed against the Braves.
THS coach David Walker commended his bunch. which rallied from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit and remained undefeated at 6-0.
"I'm proud of these guys for playing together and never letting up," THS coach David Walker said.
The game started quickly for both teams, as Bonner Springs' quick and athletic lineup put the pedal down early, hoping to run the Chieftains out of the gym. But Tonganoxie stayed strong, using deft passing, excellent teamwork and, perhaps most importantly, they knocked down several open shots in the first quarter to keep pace with the Braves.
At the end of one, the Chieftains even owned a one-point, 16-15 lead. However, that lead, which once stood at 16-11, quickly disappeared as the Braves reeled off a 9-0 run that spanned the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second.
Tonganoxie senior Zeb Kissinger ended the run with a putback early in the second quarter and from there the teams exchanged buckets for the rest of the first half before Bonner Springs finished the half with a 26-23 lead.
The Chieftains quickly tied things in the second half when Gabe Belobrajdic scored a bucket and was fouled with 6:40 left to play in the third. Belobrajdic sank his free throw and tied the game at 28-28. Things remained close throughout the quarter and Tonganoxie crept back to within one point on a bucket by Austin Smith with 2:30 left in the third. At that point, however, the Braves' speed took over. Matt Caquelin converted an easy bucket inside that gave the Braves a three-point lead. Newcomer Ariel Adger, playing in his first game with the Braves after transferring from Olathe Northwest, followed with a three-pointer at the 1:30 mark and junior LT Lee converted a bucket inside a few seconds later that gave BSHS a 44-36 lead with 1:07 to play in the quarter.
At that point, Walker called a timeout.
After the timeout, the Braves rattled off two more buckets before Smith ended the 11-0 BSHS run with a bucket for THS that made the score 48-38 after three.
From there, Tonganoxie began to chip away. Three straight scoring opportunities from Kissinger cut the Braves' lead to 50-44 with 5:20 to play. Less than two minutes later, the Chieftains tied it at 52 on a Tyler Miles bucket. At the 2:59 mark, Kissinger gave the Chieftains their first lead since the end of the first quarter and put the finishing touches on a furious 14-2 run.
Already shorthanded in the post thanks to the loss of 6-foot-5 senior Eddie McClain, who was out with a wrist injury, the Braves suffered a blow with 1:36 remaining when senior forward Chris Callahan picked up his fifth foul. Callahan's foul came on the heels of a three-point play from Miles that gave THS a 57-53 lead with 1:58 to play. The Braves answered with a three-point play of their own with 1:10 to play.
With Tonganoxie leading, 57-56, and in control of the ball, Caquelin picked up a huge steal for the Braves that set the scene for a wild finish. Down one with 32 seconds to play, Bonner Springs called timeout to set up a play. Out of the timeout, junior Chase McGee let loose with a three-pointer, but the shot went long and THS secured the rebound. Forced to foul, the Braves sent Jordan Herron to the line for a pressure-packed pair of free throws. Herron made the first, but was long on the second and Bonner's Anthony Brown was fouled by Belobrajdic on the rebound. The over-the-back foul -- Belobrajdic's fifth -- sent Brown to the line. He drained both free throws and tied the contest. Jeff Hughes tried to win the game in regulation, but his off-balance three-pointer from the corner sailed over the basket.
However, Hughes would get his redemption in the extra stanza.
After the two teams ran up and down without scoring for the first few possessions, Hughes calmly lulled his defender to sleep and drained a three-pointer from the wing with 2:40 to play.
"I just had the ball and I was open," Hughes said. "I just pumped it."
Brown cashed a pair of free throws with 1:23 remaining in OT, making the score 61-60. But a Kissinger bucket at the 33-second mark, as well as a pair of free throws inside 15 seconds, iced the 65-62 victory for the Chieftains against BSHS, which dropped to 3-3.
Hughes discussed after the game how exhilarating the contest truly was.
"I've been in some tight football games, but I don't think I've been in anything like this," Hughes said. "It was action-packed."
Kissinger scored a game-high 18, while Belobrajdic had 13, Miles 12 and Hughes 10.
THS girls 46, Bonner 28
Things were considerably less exciting in the girls game that came earlier. The THS girls took care of business early and were never threatened by Bonner Springs on its way to a 46-28 victory.
Things began slowly for the Chieftain girls, as they built an 8-3 first-quarter lead despite committing six turnovers in the quarter. Tonganoxie caught a break when BSHS senior Christina Delladio picked up two fouls in the game's first 34 seconds and was forced to the bench for the next 12 minutes. That allowed the THS offense to overcome its early turnovers. The defense also did its part, holding the Braves scoreless in the first quarter until Kelsey Stanbrough drained a three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining.
In the second quarter, the Chieftains cut down on the turnovers and built an 11-point halftime lead.
Although the Braves threatened to cut the deficit to single digits several times in the second half, the Chieftains never lost control and ran away with the 18-point victory.
Tonganoxie junior Shannon Carlin, who scored seven points, said the Chieftains were well-prepared after the long winter break -- thanks to some post-holiday conditioning.
"Talk about running a lot," Carlin said. "Coach (Randy Kraft) always uses the term 'we have to run our turkey or ham off.' So it worked."
The win moved Tonganoxie to 6-0 on the season and dropped Bonner Springs to 2-4.