Kori Babcock’s first triple-double of the year and stingy team defense led the Lady Blue Comets to their fourth win in five tries Friday night at Chanute High School.
Chanute won comfortably, 60-44, behind 29 points, 12 assists and 11 steals from the NCCC signee and the All-State and All-SEK player. Aside from the senior point guard, junior guard Tyra Bogle chipped in with 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
“On offense, the reason why I could score so much was because my team was being really good at spacing out. We work on it in practice and put it into our play,” Babcock said. “(When they were putting more pressure on me), we have a bunch of other people that can make it, so it doesn’t matter. We have so much talent that it doesn’t matter who’s getting guarded. Anybody can hit the shot.”
Coffeyville likely felt that way at first. The Golden Tornado’s senior Kylie Speer hit a basket in the paint as the first quarter expired to make the score 12-11 Chanute. Plays later, Coffeyville’s sophomore Chanute Porter muscled up a deuce to make the score 18-16 Coffeyville with 4:36 to go in the second. Coffeyville then called a timeout.
But the Coffeyville turnovers started to pile up. A 6-0 run highlighted by Babcock’s steals turned into a 12-0 run thanks to another basket by Babcock. By the time spectators social distancing with masks, sitting in groups of two, looked up, the score was 28-20 Chanute in the middle of the second quarter.
Coffeyville was sloppy with the basketball, trying too many long passes. It didn’t help that Babcock was playing the passing lanes, which helped her attain a season-high in steals.
But the variations in defense helped Babcock play the passing lanes because she knew her teammates would stay disciplined. Chanute head girls basketball coach Dustin Fox switched up coverages, converting from a three-quarter court press to a full-court press.
Coffeyville, however, figured it out, and this was shown by the scoring of All-SEK senior big Adyson Peck, who scored at will in the paint and had 21 points in the game.
In the second half, CHS switched to a 1-3-1 defense, which enabled the team to rack up even more steals and turnovers. Coffeyville had 22 turnovers compared to Chanute’s 11.
The fast break points led to even more confidence by the guard play of Chanute. Babcock’s dribble penetration led to 3s by Bogle and senior guard Brianna Waggoner, which put the score at 47-37 with around six minutes to go in the game. Minutes later, Coffeyville was fouling intentionally as the Lady Blue Comets were dribbling out the clock.
Babcock was able to control the tempo of the game all night. If she wasn’t stealing the ball and laying up a fast break point, she was hitting the lane with a full head of steam and either knocking down midrange shots or facilitating to open players because of two or three players following her around the court.
“The assists were only lacking not because she wasn’t making the play, but we should have finished it off there, especially in the first half,” Fox said. “But she does so much for us. She’s so smart. And she sees the game. And she knows that when she beats her girl, and this girl steps over, and when this girl steps over, then this is going to be open. She’s out there thinking two or three moves ahead. It’s special. It’s not a lot of kids in high school that can do that.”
Star players can’t succeed without teammates shining as well. Senior forward Jacelyn Catron, who normally plays guard but was switched into the post, did an exceptional job in guarding, blocking five shots and snatching down seven rebounds. Fox inserted freshman forward Jayelynn Smith, who did an admirable job in playing defense and filling in for players not able to suit up in the Coffeyville game. And sophomore guard Grace Thompson chipped in with three rebounds.
Chanute (4-1) will next play Independence (3-2) on the road Tuesday at 6 pm.