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Ralph Miller Gymnasium played host to a heated Southeast Kansas League battle between the Chanute Blue Comets and the Labette County Grizzlies here Friday. In a matchup that saw countless fouls, frustration from both coaches and plenty of chippiness on the court, the Grizzlies eked out a 36-34 victory over the Blue Comets.
The Grizzlies came out of the gate with a 13-0 run, paced by five from senior Ridley Lynn-Cerne and four from Junior Kayton O’Brien.
The Blue Comets were flat in the early going, but carried an extended 14-1 run to take the lead in the second quarter. The run was propelled by an eight-point spurt from junior Kierny Follmer and a pop-shot 3 from junior Jaye Smith.
“The game plan was to take care of the basketball, take good shots and guard. We did the defensive part, but we were a little slow getting going,” Chanute head coach Dustin Fox said. “The kids started digging their way out, and they did it with defense.”
Labette County netted just three more points before halftime, airballing on a number of rushed shots.
“We didn’t shoot well from the floor, their zone affected us and then we were just rattled for whatever reason,” Labette County head coach Brianna Vollmer said.
After trailing by 13, Chanute carried an 18-17 lead into the locker room. Smith nailed a three as time expired, but released after the buzzer sounded and was waved off.
Coming out of the half, both teams quickly became rattled as the flow of the game was repeatedly halted by the referees. Coming out of a pair of timeouts in the third quarter, the ball was dropped on the ground at the sound of the second horn creating confusion in both squads.
“I thought the refs really hurried this game up,” Vollmer said. “I think that just caused us to panic.”
Fox was in agreement after being visibly frustrated with multiple calls in the second half. A ball bounced off a referee was whistled dead, and junior Peyton Shields was handed a technical foul for clapping as she walked away from a tie up.
“It definitely felt like it was rushed, for whatever reason,” he said. “Some of the decisions — like with putting the ball in play (after a timeout) and things like that — I don’t think there was any need for it.”
Labette County regained the lead with an 8-2 run to close the third quarter.
“The ball kinda stopped moving,” Fox said. “Everything that we did in the second quarter that was so good, it just kinda stopped.”
Chanute did find a way to crawl back in the game, as Shields popped off for seven points in the second half. That, along with high-energy plays from Smith and senior Tyra Bogle put Chanute in striking distance late.
“It was really good to see the girls play with some passion,” Fox said. “We have some nice kids, and sometimes I would like them to have a little more fire, a little more swag. Tonight we played with some fire, and I thought that was good.
“Little plays like that,” Fox added, “it’s amazing how they can ignite your team.”
Down by three, Chanute forced a turnover with 45 seconds left. Labette County forced a jump ball with 35 ticks on the clock, but Bogle found a way to grab another steal.
The Blue Comets had three looks at the basket in the waning seconds of the game, but only came up with a single free throw from sophomore Cha’Kyra Walls as the Grizzlies fiercely contested each attempt.
“It was trading blows back-and-forth,” Fox said. “They made a couple plays late, and we didn’t.”
Although her team secured a sixth SEK win, Vollmer was not quite satisfied with the matchup.
“We kinda just found a way,” she said. “It was ugly, but as a team we grew. A win is a win, and we’ll take that this late in the season.”
Shields led Chanute with 14 points, Follmer finished with eight and Smith had seven. Junior Kelsey Haviland had a 3 in the final frame while Walls and junior Kynleigh Chard went 1-of-2 from the charity stripe.
Follmer finished with 10 rebounds, while Shields had four steals and three assists and Bogle added five rebounds and three steals. All three recorded a block on the night.
The Grizzlies were paced by a 10-point performance in the paint from Lynn-Cerne. Kayton O’Brien finished with nine, sophomore Landry O’Brien had seven and junior Neveah Jones tallied four. Senior Shelby Wilso added a bucket during the third-quarter run while senior Audrew Dewey and junior Addison Rexwinkle finished with one point.
Chanute (4-12, 2-5 SEK) is back at home on Tuesday for a senior night matchup with the Pittsburg Purple Dragons (0-17, 0-8), while Labette County (7-9, 5-3 SEK) hosts the Fort Scott Tigers (15-1, 7-1) in Altamont.
Labette County: 14 3 8 11 — 36
Chanute: 6 12 4 12 — 34
Labette County: Ridley Lynn-Cerne 10, Kayton O’Brien 9, Landry O’Brien 7, Neveah Jones 4, Shelbi Wilson 2, Audrey Dewey 1, Addison Rexwinkle 1
Chanute: Peyton Shields 14, Kierny Follmer 8, Jaye Smith 7, Kelsey Haviland 3, Cha’Kyra Walls 1, Kynleigh Chard 1
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