INDEPENDENCE – The basketball court is a redeeming place for the Chanute Blue Comets. That 4,700 square feet of hardwood is where CHS has the ability to prove they are the better team.
Tuesday night, the blue- and-gold proved once again they were the better team for the fourth time in six tries, dominating the Bulldogs in the SEK contest 58-39 to move to 4-2 on the season at Independence High School.
The win was cemented after a close three quarters, but things changed in the fourth. After Chanute’s senior guard Garrett Almond scored an easy bucket in the paint and Independence’s 6’6” center, Easton Ewing, executed on two easy layups down low, the score was 38-34 Chanute with under six minutes to go in the game. Chanute sophomore point guard Shan Williams dribbled the ball up the court before passing to freshman guard Carter Coombs. On the right side of the court just above the three-point line, Coombs dribbled to the left, using a pick by freshman small forward Kaiden Seamster. With the Bulldogs switching everything on defense at the moment, Coombs landed a favorable matchup with Ewing, before using a crossover dribble between the legs to free up space, splashing a 3 to open up the lead even more.
On the next Bulldog possession, with the Blue Comets playing man, Ewing received an entry pass in the post before making a move in the middle of the lane. But Chanute met him at the rim with three defenders, making the shot difficult. Almond, on the very next play, was able to score an easy layup off of a missed basket – the second score in a 5-0 run to make it 43-34 Chanute with just above 5 minutes left.
Taking advantage of an offensive foul committed by Independence point guard Jaxon Paige, Coombs hit another 3 on Chanute’s next offensive possession. Two possessions later, Almond’s dribble penetration led to junior guard Kam Koester’s 3, extending the lead to 49-36. The very next possession, Williams found Seamster for a wide-open layup in the paint. Thanks to some free throws and an offensive rebound layup by Williams, the Blue Comets used a 17-2 run to close out the game.
The high scorer for Chanute was Almond thanks to his 23 with two 3s, while Coombs put up 13, including three 3s of his own. Williams was able to notch seven points and Koester had seven as well.
“(What was working well was) being able to penetrate the paint and being able to find my shot whether it’s pump faking, position myself for a good shot under the basket,” Almond said. “(My teammates were getting me good shots by) being able to feed me the ball in the paint, and just let me work. It’s fun. It was a team win. We all work together, and just overall it’s a great win.”
These efforts helped out Chanute. But for Independence it did quite the opposite, losing for the sixth time in a row this season and the third time out of four tries to Chanute the last few seasons. Independence lost All-SEK players Davion Lewis and Jaden McGrath, which has contributed to this winless season.
For Chanute, it’s the team’s best start in two years. Head coach Devon Crabtree doesn’t think it’s all about offense.
“Our defensive intensity was just much better. That’s what we focused on since Friday, and coaches and I came up with a game plan on how we wanted to stop them, and our guys did a pretty good job of that I thought – that’s kind of what the difference was,” Crabtree said. “We didn’t rebound as well as we needed to, but still enough to win a game.”
The reason it was so challenging for Chanute to rebound was mostly because of Ewing’s height. Throughout the game, he made it tough for Chanute to rebound, using his long arms to tip balls and grab boards. While Ewing had 16 points, on several key possessions he missed some makeable attempts. But he is only a sophomore still needing to develop.
Chanute, so far, has seemingly learned from their underachieving season a year ago.
“Our guys are just competitive and we understand how hard you have to play to win games when it comes to league play,” Coombs said. “You can’t just come in and think you are more talented or better, because that’s not how it works. You have to come out and battle and compete every night.”
For Chanute, that meant the guards doing an admirable job of handling the ball, preventing turnovers and making heads up plays. Defensively, the guards pressured their guards, allowing their top guard in Paige to score just eight points.
Chanute’s forwards, senior Aaron Robertson and Seamster, played as well as you can on defense. Robertson was in foul trouble, but Seamster defended and made himself available for some baskets, scoring five points.
Next up, the Blue Comets (4-2, 2-1) will face Parsons (4-2, 2-0) Friday, 7:30 pm at home.
Chanute: 12 11 11 24 — 58
Indy: 9 7 12 11 — 39
Almond, 23; Coombs, 13; Koester, 7; Williams, 7; Seamster, 5; Larson Koester, 2; Parker Henson, 1
Chanute won 62-47 over Indy, moving to 5-1. Larson Koester had 30 points and Rhett Smith scored 10.
Chanute’s C-Team also won over Indy 38-34. Jordan Duncan had eight points.