Crucial missed shots thwart Tonganoxie High boys’ chance for road victory
Mill Valley hangs on in tight game
SHAWNEE – For most of Friday’s visit to Mill Valley, the Tonganoxie High boys had themselves in position to win. However, a series of missed shots in the fourth quarter proved more than a little costly.
THS trailed by just five points entering the fourth quarter, but the Jaguars pulled away late to hand the Chieftains a 53-46 loss.
After leading by nine early in the second half, Mill Valley (3-5, 3-3 Kaw Valley League) saw its lead shrink to five at the end of the third period, 43-38. Both teams struggled to score in the fourth quarter, but a 3-pointer by Mill Valley’s Jaison Widmer made it a three-possession game with 4:27 to go, and THS (1-7, 1-5) didn’t mount another serious comeback attempt.
“What we have going for us right now is, we have experience playing in tight games,” Jaguar coach Michael Bennett said. “We know how we should play, so tonight, we did a better job of getting it in the right spots.”
THS got several looks late in the game – both in the paint and beyond the 3-point arc – but struggled to get shots to fall in the final minutes. The Chieftains were forced to foul down the stretch, allowing the Jaguars to ice the game at the free throw line.
“It came down more to we didn’t finish shots in the fourth quarter,” THS coach Shawn Phillips said. “We missed several shots I felt like we should have finished.”
The Chieftains opened the game with back-to-back shots by Greg DeVeau, but MVHS answered with a 14-2 surge and led 19-11 at the end of the first quarter. Five straight points by Devan Smith ignited a THS scoring run early in the second, and a bucket by Carl Hecht drew the Chieftains to within one point midway through the quarter.
Mill Valley regained its composure and never gave up the lead, but clung to a 29-26 advantage at halftime.
An 8-2 run gave the Jaguars a 37-28 lead two minutes into the second half, but Hecht started to heat up under the basket, sinking several shots to help THS draw within three with 1:35 left in the third.
Hecht led the team with 19 points, going 8-for-9 from the field. He was the only Chieftain in double figures.
“Carl played his best game of the season,” Phillips said. “We’ve always thought he had a chance to be a really good player, but he needed to be more aggressive going to the rim. Tonight, he did and he finished all of his moves with power.”
Widmer matched Hecht’s 19 points for Mill Valley, while Clayton Holmberg added 10.
THS will open its 56th annual home invitational at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against defending Class 4A-II state champion Eudora.
“Tournament time is always fun,” Phillips said. “You know you’re going to play against good teams and play in a good environment. We haven’t played at home a whole lot, so we’re excited to get home and maybe make some noise in the tournament.”
MILL VALLEY 53, THS 46
Score by quarter
THS 11 15 12 8 – 46
MVHS 19 10 14 10 – 53
THS: 8-9 3-4 19, Greg DeVeau 4-6 0-1 8, Devan Smith 2-5 1-3 6, Jared Sommers 2-8 2-2 6, Brady Swedo 2-14 0-0 5, Dylan Rinne 1-2 0-0 2; MVHS: Jaison Widmer 7-10 2-3 19, Clayton Holmberg 3-8 4-7 10, Cooper Kaifes 2-7 3-4 8, Kasey Conklin 2-5 0-0 5, Tyler Grauer 2-3 1-3 5, Evan Kopatich 1-2 0-0 3, Tanner Jenkins 1-2 0-0 2, Mitch Perkins 0-0 1-2 1.