BY PAUL STURM CT Sportswriter
Having seen enough of this season’s Lawson Lady Cardinals basketball team during their recent visit to Chillicothe and having coached against LHS coach Lisa Glenn many times during his 7+ seasons as a coach CHS Lady Hornets leader Darren Smith had no surprises. to find Lawson well prepared mentally and well deployed physically in a bid to score a big upset when the teams faced off for the second time in 10 days in last Thursday’s championship semi-finals of the Lawson Invitational tournament.
“We knew it would be a completely different ball game,” Smith said of himself, longtime assistant coach Terry McKiddy, and his team, reflecting on the previous 65-28 triumph that was more competitive than this score suggests.
“(Glenn) does such a good job of getting his kids ready to play and do things that make it difficult for you, especially offensively.”
So while he was decidedly unhappy to see his club down 13-9 at the start of the second quarter and only 23-20 ahead 2-1/2 minutes into the third, he was not surprised.
“That was to be expected,” the coach confirmed to CT after his club finally pulled away to win 54-34.
With their potent blend of confidence, skill and competitive determination, the Lady Hornets rose to the challenge posed by Lawson.
With the Lady Cardinals in possession after Mary Moore robbed the top of the Chillicothe Key and the breakaway layup made it 23-20 with 5:39 into the third quarter, the top seed looked vulnerable.
The next 70 seconds, however, showed why they proved so hard to beat.
Only a dozen ticks after Moore’s layup after stealing a pass from Jessica Reeter, J. Reeter accepted a transfer pass from Jolie Bonderer well down the right side and, when the closest defender failed to not advanced towards her, let fly with a 23-foot set-piece that tickled the string and doubled the lead to six.
Twenty-five seconds later, J. Reeter became a facilitator, handing the ball to his cousin Lucy Reeter on the left of the sidelines for another CHS trifecta. And when the Chillicothe defense produced another save, J. Reeter found Essie Hicks on the left wing for another long-range dagger.
In 1:14 since Lawson was down from eight to under three, Chillicothe’s lead had quadrupled to 12.
Yet, despite being knocked out, the Lady Cardinals (6-9) have refused to be eliminated, at least for now.
After a timeout following Hicks’ bomb, the home team hit a free throw, then a trey. After a free throw from Chillicothe, a deuce from LHS reserve Evie Caresia got Lawson back to within seven points — his halftime deficit — with more than 10½ minutes of basketball still to play.
That, however, turned out to be his last gasp, thanks in large part – at least offensively – to J. Reeter.
The junior, who set the team record for 3 in a game earlier this season with eight, splashed his third and fourth of the game 37 seconds apart to stretch Chillicothe’s lead to 13 points, so most important of the match, 39-26. , after three quarters.
She then knocked down another one minute in the fourth frame to start a CHS 10-0 start to the closing segment.
Hicks struck again from outside the arc and knocked down a 10-footer before J. Reeter’s base pass let Bonderer score underhand with 4:23 remaining in the game.
That bucket – set up by, unofficially, the sixth of J. Reeter’s seven assists in the game meant the Lady Hornets had the game’s most recent 16 points and trailed 23, 49-26, less than six minutes after being only seven.
Statistically, the game was the best of J. Reeter’s already highly productive career. The daughter of early 1990s CHS star Julia (Hinkebein) Reeter finished with half a dozen triples – just two off her own record – and paired all seven assists with her 18 points and a pair of rebounds. His seven “dimes” accounted for half of the team’s 14 assists.
Sophomore Bonderer, after a bit of a slow start, was in double digits in rebounds (10) at halftime and finished the contest with a double-double of 14 points and, unofficially, 14 boards.
Hicks also hit for 14 scorers.
Lawson had just one double-digit scorer with postman Kinley Wilkins tallying 11 points, but, with his size and hustle and bustle, this caused Chillicothe tantrums when the Lady Hornets tried to find ways to mark in the paint area.
As a result, Chillicothe had to try and do most of his damage from the outside – and eventually did, while trying to overcome plenty of turnovers on inside passes and a strong LHS rebound, especially early on.
“I thought they just worked harder than us,” Smith said of the precocious tone Lawson set with his work under glass.
“They were shoving us around, getting into position to get the rebound and I thought that was a big part of them getting off to a really good start.”
Unofficially, Lawson was effectively tied with Chillicothe in first-half rebounds and finished the game with 28, although CHS caught 35. Importantly for the Lady Cardinals who remain in contention for as long as they did, they produced nine “second chance” points with their offense. bouncing, while Chillicothe had six.