2021 may not be any different when it comes to COVID-19, but it is different for Chanute High School girls basketball — in a big way.
In February 2020, the Lady Blue Comets by 10 to Paola on their turf. This year, CHS won a dogfight, 48-44 over the sub-state runner-up, which cemented a five-game win streak and the ninth win in 11 tries this season.
Senior point guard Kori Babcock, who is just two points away from achieving 1,000 points in her high school career, poured in 22 points, six assists, five rebounds, and four steals. Senior forward Mattilyn Cranor added eight points, two steals, and a rebound. Junior guard Jacelyn Catron chipped in seven points, including two 3s, five rebounds, four steals, two blocks, and one assist.
“I thought we played hard – it all starts with that honestly,” CHS girls head coach Dustin Fox said. “(Paola’s) record is kind of deceiving because they play so many good schools up in their area, and they’re big and physical, and it was a physical game tonight. There weren’t a lot of fouls called inside, so we had to really compete and be tough. I was proud of that despite us kind of being outsized there. And then, I think Kori, she makes things happen for us and they were bringing so much attention to her and she was able to find people and make plays. And then we had those other kids stepping up and finishing them off.”
With Chanute’s defense bottling up the interior all night, Paola managed to score a runner in the lane to tie the game at 40 with over five minutes to go in the contest. Paola on their next offensive possession committed an offensive foul, before Chanute called a timeout.
Right after that, the Lady Blue Comets ran a play for a back-door look, based on Paola’s defense overplaying throughout the game. But Paola’s defense stayed pat, and Babcock, staying patient, operated on the left elbow with a dribble-drive to the middle that resulted in an easy basket. That gave the Blue Comets a 42-40 lead with around four minutes to go.
Paola scored on the next possession to tie the game at 42.
But Cranor produced the next two scores, including a basket off of an offensive rebound, making the CHS lead 46-42. Defensive stands and a few intentional fouls led to the game’s final score.
During the game’s span of offensive highlights, there were the nitty-gritty defensive plays that put Chanute in a position to forge ahead or to stay out on top by a few points. For much of the game, the Blue Comets assembled in a 1-3-1 defense that resulted in a total of 12 steals. But in the waning moments of the game, the Lady Blue Comets reorganized into a combination defense that took away Paola’s two main shooters, shifting to the offensive end for Chanute.
With less than a minute to go, Babcock was close to eclipsing 1,000 total points in her high school career. Babcock didn’t know that invariably, as she was focused on making free throws to ice the game. She swished two free throws down the stretch, which got her within a basket of passing the milestone.
Fox explained how Chanute’s best player has gotten to this point.
“She’s gotten better and better as the years went on,” he said. “She started the year banged up with her back, and then her shoulder, and she was not shooting the ball like she wanted to shoot in the beginning of the year. But that didn’t stop her from contributing and finding ways to help us win. I think that’s the biggest compliment you can pay a kid like that is that she is a winner – whatever it takes. Her rebounding is way up this year, steals. She’s finding people. Whatever we need, she does it. And that’s why she’s such a great player.”
CHS (9-2, 3-1) will try to improve on the offensive glass, free throws, and going up strong in their next outing versus Iola Friday at 6 pm on the road.
CHS : 5 18 17 8 — 48
Paola: 8 7 19 10 — 44
Kori Babcock 22, Jacelyn Catron 7, Mattilyn Cranor 8, Peyton Shields 3, Brianna Waggoner 3, Brinly Bancroft 1, Tyra Bogle 4