Chieftains rally late for third
It was far from a perfect ending, but a victory is a victory.
Tonganoxie High’s girls basketball team didn’t tally a fourth-quarter point against Silver Lake in the third-place game at the Tonganoxie Invitational Saturday afternoon until senior Roni Grizzle scored a layup with 36 seconds to go but the Chieftains still found a way to win, 47-44.
“It was not how we had it planned,” THS coach Randy Kraft said with a smile.
Following an 8-0 Silver Lake run to open the fourth quarter, THS (7-3) trailed, 44-43, with 47 seconds to go. Grizzle’s basket put the Chieftains up one, and on the Eagles’ ensuing possession, SLHS called a timeout with 17 seconds left to set up a play. Kraft then called another timeout once he got a chance to see the Eagles aligned for their inbound set. Next, Silver Lake was forced to use another timeout as the Chieftains’ defense took away the Eagles’ options on the play.
Eventually, SLHS got the ball in and Chelsea Roth missed a shot that would have put THS in the hole. Tonganoxie junior Andie Jeannin grabbed the defensive rebound and passed the ball ahead to Haley Smith, who was fouled with 10 seconds remaining.
Smith stepped to the line for a one-and-one and hit her first shot before the Eagles called a timeout in hopes of icing the freshman. After getting some words of encouragement from THS seniors Grizzle and Chrissie Jeannin during the stoppage, Smith returned to the line and drained another free throw, giving THS a more comfortable three-point lead.
The Eagles were forced to put up a trey to tie the contest, but Bailey Krogman misfired.
Plagued by turnovers throughout the game (23), the fourth quarter was no different for Tonganoxie.
“It seemed like we were having turnover, after turnover, after turnover, and after every one, I tried to tell people to settle down,” Grizzle said.
Tonganoxie usually runs offensive sets designed for quick shots, but with a lead late in the game, the Chieftains were trying to run some time off the clock before getting their shots. Unfortunately for THS, instead of putting up shot attempts, the players were turning the ball over. If it wasn’t for the team’s solid defense in the final eight minutes, Kraft said, the outcome of the game might have been different.
The Chieftains trailed by three at the half, and a 19-9 third-quarter advantage for Tonganoxie proved to be critical. THS trailed most of the quarter but used a 13-2 run to finish the third. Point guard Chrissie Jeannin found Grizzle inside to cut the deficit to two. Jeannin later grabbed a rebound on defense and went coast-to-coast for a layup to tie the game at 34 with 2:56 to go in the quarter. A steal and layup from Grizzle gave THS its first lead of the second half and a three-pointer from Smith put the team up by five. A lay-in from Jeannin was followed by Abby Eisman hitting Smith for another easy bucket, giving THS a seven-point lead entering the fourth.
With both teams disappointed about missing the finals — “I know we wanted to get first and we had a chance but we kind of let it go,” Smith said — the game had a slow start, and Grizzle called the team’s play in the win “lackadaisical.” But Kraft said that he was glad the team played with some zest in spurts.
“It is tough to play, especially when you played the night before and had a very tough, physical game,” the coach said of the third-place contest. “It takes a little time sometimes to get that spirit back.”
Kraft said he was proud of his team.
“We got two wins out of the tournament and finished third,” he said. “Yeah, we wanted to play for the title game, but this team is coming together, we’re just not able to put 32 minutes together.”