IOLA – The opponent had the better record heading into a rival game versus Chanute Thursday night at Iola High School. But the Blue Comets clearly had the better basketball players.
To put the talent disparity into perspective, Iola’s seven of 12 wins were against teams with less than a .500 record, while Chanute’s six wins are versus squads with a .500 or better record after the 62-51 win.
Freshman point guard Carter Coombs racked up a career-high 26 points, sophomore guard Shan Williams and senior forward Aaron Robertson had nine apiece, junior guard Kam Koester and freshman forward Kaiden Seamster each put up seven points, and freshman forward Kaidan Frederick tallied four.
Chanute showed its superiority early on, even being without guard Garrett Almond, who is out because of an ankle injury he suffered in the game against Pittsburg on Feb. 12. The Blue Comets were also strong in the fourth quarter to secure the school’s 11th win in eight seasons over the Mustangs.
“Yeah, we did a good job. Finally got some stops without fouling and we were able to get some rebounds, and then went to the free-throw line. I’d like to see us make some more, but we made what we needed to get it done,” CHS head boys coach Devon Crabtree said.
Iola’s Landon Carson, a 2020 All-Pioneer League player, closed the gap in the third quarter by scoring five in the third, including a three. Carson also scored 10 in the fourth, including a trey and five free throws, to keep the game competitive.
But it was the little things that became big things to ensure Chanute’s sixth win of the season, preventing a five-game win streak for Iola. With Carson pulling Iola to a 38-37 Chanute lead, Robertson caught a pass from Koester off a pick-and-roll and was fouled at the rim. He made the free throw to put Chanute up by two near the end of the third. At the start of the fourth a few offensive plays in, Coombs hit two 3s to put the Comets up 45-41. Off of a Coombs dribble-drive pass, Williams drained a 3 in the corner. Plays later, Robertson knocked down a wide-open corner 3 to put the score at 52-44 Chanute with 4:21 left in the ballgame.
At that point, Iola was facing an uphill battle.
“My teammates were just getting me open for good shots, and I had to knock them down,” Coombs said after the game. “When I start hitting shots, I feel like I’m going to make every one I shoot.”
That’s exactly what happened in the first quarter, though Coombs played his way into those 3s as opposing to just forcing shots.
The Comets went on a 13-3 run in the first quarter after Coombs hit an and-one. He would go on to hit two 3s, scoring 11 points in the quarter.
Coombs then scored eight in the second with two 3s. CHS was able to expand its lead thanks to the zone defense creating turnovers. Williams was able to get a steal and easy layup out of the zone, which put the score up to 26-16 Chanute with over three minutes left in the first half.
That defense catapulted a 37-21 halftime lead for the Blue Comets while holding Carson to no points in the first half.
“We knew coming in that the Carson kid was one of their best scorers. We tried to do a good job,” Crabtree said. “We mixed it up on them, (played) a lot of zone and hoping that would throw him off. That’s kind of what we’ve been doing. In the first half, we did a good job with it. Pretty happy we were able to go to our man-to-man and come out with a win.”
Williams did a good job of making heads-up plays while controlling the tempo, Koester stayed aggressive while calling out defensive plays and communicating on offense, Robertson played effective and efficient offense while guarding the big men in the paint, and Frederick gave Chanute some fruitful minutes in the fourth quarter, scoring four.
And then there was Seamster. He filled in nicely in the starting lineup for a hobbled Almond, who was on the sideline. Seamster hit a straightaway 3 in the second quarter while playing good team defense. Crabtree noted that Seamster has been learning a lot all year as a freshman.
Chanute: 20 17 2 23
Iola: 12 9 16 14
Coombs 26, Williams 9, Robertson 9, Koester 7, Seamster 7, Frederick 4.