13-game win streak comes to an end
Senior Night for the Tonganoxie High girls basketball team couldn't have started any better - the Chieftains jumped out to a seven-point advantage and appeared to be in great shape against visiting Mill Valley.
The rest of the game, though, was a different story as THS fell, 43-42, in the final home game for five seniors.
The Jaguars picked up their game and managed to end the first quarter with a 12-12 tie.
By the halfway mark of the second quarter, the Jaguars bolted ahead for a 23-20 lead, which wouldn't be regained by the Chieftains until 2:46 was left in the game and senior Christy Weller hit a much-needed three.
The final 2:30 was a back-and-forth battle. Mill Valley tied it up on the next offensive position and then Tracie Hileman made one of Tonganoxie's four free throws on the night, helping the Chieftains to a 40-39 lead.
The Jaguars struck back quickly and Mill Valley regained the lead by one. Tonganoxie then moved down the court and missed a shot on which Liz Baska was whistled for an over-the-back foul as she attempted to snag an offensive rebound. Mill Valley capitalized on the foul by making both free throws and widening its lead to three.
With roughly a minute remaining, another missed three-pointer by the Chieftains could have been a final blow for THS.
However, senior Tracie Hileman was able to steal the ball away from the Jaguars at mid-court and lay the ball in for two points. The game looked to be in the bag for Mill Valley as a Jaguar player drove into the lane. But Hileman blocked the shot and the Chieftains recovered the ball.
After a Tonganoxie timeout with 22.7 seconds remaining, though, THS couldn't find an open shot to take. With 4.3 seconds left, junior Chrissie Jeannin missed a contested three. Weller was able to grab the rebound but was heavily guarded and did not get off a good shot.
"We didn't attack the basket and get a good look," THS coach Randy Kraft said. "We were patient but hesitant, which is not normal for us."
After Friday's game, which dropped THS to 17-3 and shattered the team's hope for a fifth straight Kaw Valley League title, Hileman was looking toward the next game.
"You have to be positive at all times, look at the glass half-full," Hileman said. "We need to refocus and go into sub-state with a level head."
Friday night, Hileman continued to discuss sub-state.
"When you lose a big game, it dwells," Hileman said. "But we can't let games like this dwell too long because our next is game is in a few days."
- Ebbert, a Tonganoxie High School senior, is serving as an intern this school year at The Mirror.