INDEPENDENCE – It looked as if the Chanute High School Lady Blue Comets had staved off the last-second shot demons.
Just two games ago versus Pittsburg, Chanute lost on a 38-footer at the buzzer due to missed free throws and a turnover down the stretch. This time versus Independence, however, junior Kori Babcock drained two free throws after being fouled to put the Comets up 31-30 with 20 seconds left in the game.
But first-year Independence head coach James Cole dialed up a play for the half-court set that allowed junior Rylee Rutherford to get a decent look in the paint from straightaway versus Chanute’s diamond-and-one defense – a barricade that prevented Independence’s All-State Honorable Mention Jenna Eytcheson from getting the ball. Eventually the basketball banked off the glass and into the basket with four seconds left to put the score at 32-31 Indy. That was the final score of the game after Babcock heaved a shot just within half court, but missed, losing to the Lady Bulldogs for the first time in two years and falling short by three points or less for the third time this season.
Babcock on the day had 11 points (her second lowest point total of the season), three rebounds and four steals. Junior Mattilyn Cranor scored eight points and pulled down nine rebounds.
“Our defense and our girls played (with) attention to detail and they executed the game plan well,” Cole said. “We wanted to try to limit Babcock to the amount of shots she got and the points and keep her out the paint. She’s a really good player, but I thought we did a pretty good job in trying to contain her and making the other girls try to beat us.”
On the offensive end, Cole’s girls did just enough to fend off Chanute. Independence’s heroine Rutherford racked up 15 points and six boards, while Eytcheson scored nine points and brought down four rebounds.
“Overall we didn’t play with the sustained energy and effort we need to be successful,” CHS head coach Dustin Fox said. “Communication was almost nonexistent. We have to improve on that end of the floor and quick.”
The game was tied at 17 at the break. And it was early on that the lack of communication for the Lady Blue Comets was apparent.
This edge for Independence combined with being grittier, tougher on rebounds and having the desire to possess loose balls extended into the second half.
While Chanute was up 24-20 at the end of the third thanks to freshman Tyra Bogle making some plays, it was Independence outscoring Chanute 12-7 in the fourth that essentially ended the game.
CHS was off on 3s and shots at the rim.
Chanute’s misfortunes have manifested into ending the dreams of winning an SEK crown. But Fox said his team cannot worry about record and future playoff seeding.
“We don’t have the luxury of worrying about any of that, though,” Fox noted. “We have to figure out how to bring it consistently or it won’t matter whom we play.”
Chanute (11-6, 7-3) will attempt to make amends at 6 pm Friday at home against winless Parsons (0-16).
Chanute’s junior varsity Lady Blue Comets beat Indy Tuesday night 33-20.
Tyra Bogle led the scoring with 11 points and six rebounds. Jillian Vogel had seven points and six rebounds. Preston Keating tallied three steals, while Grace Thompson pulled down seven rebounds.