Tonganoxie High girls make strides in loss
Team nabs first victory against Turner
SHAWNEE — David Hall sensed the Tonganoxie High girls had started to turn a corner in their first win Jan. 13 against Turner. The Chieftains weren’t able to replicate that success Friday at Mill Valley, but further progress was still evident in the eyes of their coach.
THS led by one point after the first quarter, but couldn’t keep up late in a 46-34 loss to the Class 5A Jaguars.
“It’s a mental deal,” said Hall, currently in his first season as head coach. “We’ve got to rely on everybody to be in sync. We played Turner and got that win, and I thought we played really well (Friday). I was very pleased with the efforts of our kids.”
Offense was a premium in the game’s opening minutes, as neither team scored until a shot by Mill Valley’s Catie Kaifes with 5:54 left in the first quarter. Tonganoxie (1-7, 1-5 Kaw Valley League) got on the board on a runner by Tressa Walker midway through the period, and the teams battled for the rest of the quarter, which the Chieftains ended with a 9-8 advantage.
Kaifes, who scored a game-high 19 points, started to heat up in the second, allowing MVHS (7-2, 6-0) to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The 5-foot-11 junior got free under the basket several times and turned multiple Chieftain turnovers into breakaway layups, making up for the Jaguars’ cold shooting early in the contest.
“First of all, we didn’t make them guard and we just shot the trey,” MVHS coach John McFall said of the slow start. “We shot 13 treys in the first half. We don’t shoot 13 treys in a game very often.”
Mill Valley opened up a nine-point lead in the final minute of the half, but a late 3-pointer by Tonganoxie’s Taylor Lee made it 22-16 at the break.
The Jaguars erased any thoughts of a second-half comeback with a 10-0 third-quarter run, giving themselves a 38-21 lead entering the fourth. An offensive change by THS kept Mill Valley from doing any further damage, as Cheyenne Ford connected on three straight mid-range jumpers.
“(Hall) made a nice adjustment and they started flaring off of the down screen,” McFall said. “We didn’t make an adjustment right away, so that allowed them to hang right there.”
Walker and Ford led the Chieftains with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Meanwhile, Mill Valley’s Jabria Leggett complemented Kaifes’ big night with 12 points.
THS will return to its home gymnasium next week with the annual Tonganoxie Invitational. It will open tournament play at 6 p.m. Tuesday against Wamego, currently ranked No. 3 in the state.
Hall said the matchup just adds to the squad’s already rugged slate.
“Our RPI is off the charts,” Hall said, jokingly referring to the NCAA’s rating percentage index, which it uses to rank teams based on strength of schedule. “We’re going to give it our best effort. We’ll just try to do what we do right. If we don’t do the little things, it won’t matter who we’re playing.”
The Jaguars will have a week off before their next action, a Jan. 23 visit to Shawnee Mission South.
MILL VALLEY 46, THS 34
Score by quarters
THS 9 7 5 13 – 34
MVHS 8 14 16 8 – 46
THS: Tressa Walker 5-7 0-0 13, Cheyenne Ford 5-6 0-0 10, Sarah Ahart 4-7 0-0 8, Taylor Lee 1-5 0-0 3; MVHS: Catie Kaifes 9-14 1-3 19, Jabria Leggett 6-14 0-0 12, Whitney Hazlett 2-7 0-0 6, Savannah Rudicel 1-1 0-0 3, Lexie Myers 1-3 1-2 3, Courtney Carlson 1-9 0-2 3.