Even in a COVID-19-riddled year full of uncertainty, Chanute’s Kori Babcock and the Lady Blue Comets have found a way to rise above it all.
Friday in Iola was just a microcosm of the circumstances. Not only did Babcock score her 1,000th point in her high school basketball career, but the Lady Blue Comets won their tenth game in 12 tries with a 40-33 win over the Fillies.
Babcock could have scored her 1,000th point last Tuesday versus Paola – a time in which Paola was intentionally fouling Babcock as the Lady Blue Comets held on for a lead during the waning moments of the game – but the historical mark didn’t come until a steal in the very first Chanute possession of the Iola game that led to an easy layup for the All-State player.
It didn’t look like there was much resistance to her 1,000th point, but that is far from the truth.
First, one has to take into consideration that many local and regional players and teams haven’t been able to play because of COVID-19. But all year, Babcock has been able to stay healthy and contribute like it’s a normal day in the office – as if there isn’t anything going on.
While the Lady Blue Comets haven’t been overwhelmingly impacted for reasons outside of their control, CHS has had a few players in and out of the lineup for a myriad of reasons. Still, Babcock is averaging 19.6 points, 3.7 assists, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.8 steals per game.
Her tunnel vision in the circumstances and the near 20-point average this year is what the future NCCC player used to attain the high school feat.
“It feels great because I’ve been wanting to do it ever since I started basketball at high school,” Babcock said after the Iola win. “It was my goal from my freshman year to now to get to 1,000. So it feels really good. And I’m just happy that I got it.”
Chanute head girls coach Dustin Fox was just as happy that he was able to see his player, who he has known for years well before CHS, cement her name in Chanute history.
“It’s a big moment for her and just a real credit to a consistent career she’s had,” Fox said. “She’s played with amazing teammates along the way to help her out. And she’d be the first to tell you that. (I’m) just proud of her. I remember meeting her for the first time in fourth grade coming to our camps. Just the work that she’s put in from that time – it didn’t start in high school. This is a kid who was in the gym consistently year after year in the summer. I’ve gotten more calls from her, ‘Hey can I get in the gym?’ than any kid that I’ve ever had. There’s a reason why she’s the player she is ... I’m proud of her for the accomplishment.”
Fox was even prouder after the team left Iola with the dub. But the win wasn’t an easy one. It took the efforts of the whole team to seal the deal: freshman guard Peyton Shields replacing Babcock to rack up timely baskets; junior Jacelyn Catron morphing into Dikembe Mutombo for two straight blocks to keep the score at 28-27; Babcock dishing to sophomore Brinly Bancroft to put the score at 30-27 after an easy layup; Babcock’s free throws; and sophomore Tyra Bogle being fouled as she attempted a corner 3 only to sink all three free throws to make it 35-30, just to name a few.
Chanute did all of this while mask-wearing Iola fans were erupting on every made Filly basket and lambasting every little Blue Comet mistake.
“I thought Peyton Shields kind of carried us early and did some good things for us – made some really timely baskets and some big baskets. And then there late, I thought Kori made some big shots and some big free throws. Mattilyn (senior forward Cranor) stepped up when we were down two and made two big free throws after missing several before that. Bri (sophomore forward Brianna Waggoner) from that corner 3 finally got one to go and then Tyra, when she got fouled in the corner, made some big free throws,” Fox said of the collective effort. “We had a lot of different girls step up and contribute there down the stretch. And that’s what you need when you are not shooting the ball particularly well.”
That’s also what you need for a six-game win streak – Chanute’s third straight year with such a streak.
During this collection of wins, no matter what is thrown at this team, they are playing for one another. Execution on offense and defense throughout the game is evident. But based on player interactions, this team looks as if they would run through a brick wall for one another.
In this COVID-19 year, the last teams standing are the ones fortunate enough to avoid injury and the coronavirus, and are able to stay the course no matter what monkey wrench is thrown.
And Chanute, a program with the most wins and the second-best record in the SEK, has invariably risen to the occasion to date.
Pittsburg comes to Chanute tonight.