Chieftains have a shot at state
Perry The Tonganoxie High boys basketball team is one win away from a Class 4A state tournament berth after defeating Holton, 63-54, in a sub-state semifinal Thursday night.
Up just three with less than three minutes to play, the Chieftains went on a 9-0 run to cement the victory.
Leading 54-51, senior THS forward Jamie Everett hit junior Keaton Schaffer for a fast-break layup. After senior center Austin Smith hit one of two free throws at the 2:00 mark, Schaffer again scored a transition lay-in the next time down the floor, this time receiving a perfect pass from sophomore point guard Jeremy Carlisle.
Carlisle — capitalizing on a two-on-two break — set the table beautifully for Tonganoxie’s next basket with just more than a minute remaining, hitting a sprinting Smith in stride for a vicious, two-handed throw-down that put THS up 10 and extinguished any thoughts of a Holton comeback.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for that,” Smith said of his first dunk in a high school game and the Chieftains’ first jam of the season.
Schaffer, who led Tonganoxie with 25 points, capped the run with a pair of free throws.
First-year THS coach Shawn Phillips said, since his arrival, he has been telling the players that he wants them competing for championships. Counting the team’s December tournament at Paola, where THS finished seventh, and the Tonganoxie Invitational, where the Chieftains were second, the coach noted that Saturday’s sub-state finale will make two out of three championship game appearances for his team this season.
“Our mid-season one didn’t go as well (THS fell 52-30 to DeSoto), so we’ve got to learn from that. We know that there’s more work to do,” Phillips said, indicating the team won’t get too excited about Thursday’s semifinal victory.
Smith said the team would soon leave its Holton win behind.
“You celebrate that but when you come out of the locker room, you’ve got to be focused on the next game and don’t let the excitement from the last game catch you off guard,” he said.
THS (14-8) led Holton by 10 early in the second quarter before the Wildcats chipped away at the lead and cut it to three at the half.
Holton (12-10) tied the game in the third with 4:15 to go but the Chieftains responded with a 9-2 run kick-started by senior guard Jace Waters’ three that gave THS the lead for good with 3:55 remaining in the period.
Schaffer scored 10 in the fourth quarter to finish an impressive offensive night. The forward scored eight of Tonganoxie’s 16 fast-break points, scored four more on drives in the half court, went 6-for-7 from the line and hit three jumpers, including a three-pointer. Schaffer credited his point guard with setting him up for a big night.
“It all starts with Carlisle. He always finds me wide open in transition,” Schaffer said.
Basehor-Linwood beat Perry-Lecompton, 60-57, in the other semifinal and will face Tonganoxie in the sub-state championship game on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Perry. BLHS defeated THS, 81-59, at Basehor in the regular season.
Schaffer said the Chieftains are looking forward to a rematch.
Having familiarity with their foe, Phillips said, could help but, ultimately, anything can happen with a trip to state on the line.
“It’ll be nice to know the different players and have seen them play in person but this late in the season, you’re going to have to play and beat somebody that’s pretty darn good,” the coach said.
The program has not been to state since 1984.
Visit The Mirror online Saturday evening for the result, reactions and more.
Score by quarters
Holton 13 16 12 13 — 54
Tonganoxie 21 11 16 15 — 63
Keaton Schaffer 25, Jamie Everett 8, Austin Smith 12, Jeremy Carlisle 7, Brandon Yoder 4, Jace Waters 7.