Kori Babcock was fouled in the half-court as Chanute was in the double bonus. She eventually knocked down 1-of-2 free throws to make the score 62-48 with less than 20 seconds to go versus the Independence Lady Bulldogs on Friday night at Chanute High School.
In the grand scheme of things, this free throw didn’t matter to the result of the game, as CHS would go on to win 63-48 and move to 6-1 and 4-0 versus SEK competition in the 2019-20 season.
But the free throw could’ve lifted Babcock over her career-high of 28 points, a feat that the starting point guard accomplished versus Coffeyville on Jan. 7. In Babcock’s mind, however, this particular accomplishment wasn’t even a thought; rather, she was more concerned on the outcome that would have assisted the team even more.
“I really don’t keep track of my points; I only know how many I get after the game and they tell me and stuff,” Babcock said. “I’ve been working on my free throws, trying to get better at them, and try and make them more consistently instead of missing more of them.”
Although Babcock is shooting 69 percent from the charity stripe, it is this kind of attitude that impresses her teammates.
Babcock, who last year earned first-team All-SEK and was a Class 4A All-State Honorable Mention player averaging 11.7 points a game with 3.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals a game, fit well into a lesser starting role with former Chanute players Shayla Bogle (now playing for Ozark Christian College), Rachel Jackett (Ozark Christian College), Molly Rollins (All-SEK Honorable Mention) and Thea Alschner (second-team All-SEK). Babcock played a ton minutes, but wasn’t asked to shoot and score as much last season.
While that team eventually went 13-8 and won their second league title in the past four seasons, the 2018-19 team didn’t go 6-1 out of the gate like this year’s team.
It is Babcock’s willingness to learn from past mistakes and expand her role – the All-League player is averaging 21 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists – as a scorer, a defender, a passer and, most importantly, as a leader who is galvanizing the team to new heights.
“I try to get my teammates up and hyped about what we are doing. We all try to get the best shot we possibly can,”’ Babcock previously said. “I really don’t think about shooting when we are down, I just think of what’s best for us.”
Babcock has scored 56 points over the last two games, but she is prioritizing the team first. And this propels the whole team to play even better.
Chanute scored 63 points in the last two games and won by a combined 28 points. But CHS has won in blowout fashion, handily or down to the wire.
Why is this? It’s because Kori’s play and attitude have allowed Jacey Lewis, Brianna Waggoner and Tyra Bogle to hit wide-open 3s, Makayla Schoenhofer to roll off of picks for wide-open layups, and Mattilyn Cranor to hit some shots because of the spacing of the floor.
Communication on defense has been a core value for Chanute, and this starts from how vocal the point guard is. Chanute team members seem to be working as partners to let their fellow compatriots know where a particular offensive player is moving.
And this doesn’t stop with the main players. When the game is well in hand, starters and others who play crucial minutes engage in a flare of raucous cheers no matter what the score is.
The team is working in unison early on.
“Kori is such a great player and she’s going to get hot at some point in time,” head coach Dustin Fox said after the Independence game. And our other girls stepped up and made big shots when they were left open. And when there is that much attention to Kori like there was tonight, the other girls are going to have to step up. And we had a lot of other girls step up and make big plays.”
That combination all year has led to Chanute (7-1, 5-0 including Parsons win) winning seven of eight games. Chanute’s next game was versus Parsons on Tuesday night, a 71-31 decision, and the full game story will be in Thursday’s paper.