By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
It’s well documented that Kickapoo doesn’t have much experience.
So, when the Chiefs’ lead over No. 3 Strafford dwindled down to just two points with less than 90 seconds remaining in the game, Kickapoo was in unfamiliar territory.
But, it didn’t take long to answer, and the respondent came from an increasingly familiar source, with Anton Brookshire’s corner 3, answering a put-back layup by Strafford’s Riley Oberbeck, keying a 6-0 spurt to end the game that led Kickapoo to a 61-53 win over Strafford on Wednesday.
Brookshire, who finished with 10 points, is Kickapoo’s leading scorer and finished with 10 points, one of four players to reach double figures.
“He plays with a lot of composure and we’re asking him to do a lot as a freshman,” said Kickapoo head coach Mitch McHenry. “But he just doesn’t play like a freshman because of that skill and composure.
“It was a great team win. These last few games we’ve had multiple kids in double figures. We had several guys step up for us and hit big shots. It was ugly at the end but I was proud. We don’t have any guys with varsity experience from last year so the Blue and Gold is new to all of them. None of these guys have been in this situation before and to beat a good team like Strafford, putting ourselves one game away from a chance to play for a championship is a credit to our kids and player.”
The game got off to a peculiar start, with Kickapoo being assessed a technical foul due to the wrong uniforms being worn. It’s the second time this season the Chiefs have started a game down 1-0 before a second has even ticked off the clock.
Oddly enough, Kickapoo is unbeaten when it happens.
Helping ease that error on Wednesday was a 10-0 run to start the game. The Chiefs led by eight after the first quarter but trailed by one entering the fourth.
Oberbeck and Weston Boswell finished with 15 points each to lead Strafford. David Senn (14), Tanner Oetting (13) and Sam Wallin (11) all joined Brookshire in double figures.
The Poo has now won four of its last five games entering Thursday’s semifinal showdown with undefeated Mountain Grove.
McHenry is aware of just how good the Panthers are, but he’s also excited about the opportunity in front of his team.
“We’re in a really good position, just to be on the right side of the bracket and be one game away from the championship,” said McHenry. “Our goal is to play four straight days and win four straight games and we’re in position to achieve that goal.
“But, we’re going to see another good team, which you expect in the Blue and Gold. Mountain Grove has had a lot of success of the years and very experienced players. I think they’ll be hungry because last year didn’t go the way that they wanted it to. But I think our kids are up for the challenge and I’m excited for them.”
Kickapoo 61, Strafford 53
Strafford 10 16 19 8 — 53
Kickapoo 19 15 10 17 — 61
Strafford – Riley Oberbeck 15, Weston Boswell 15, Jordan Choate 7, Kensen White 5, Wyatt Maples 4, Mason Foley 2, Trenton Roebke 2, Dillon Hester 1
Kickapoo – David Senn 14, Tanner Oetting 13, Sam Wallin 11, Anton Brookshire 10, Luke Rebmann 4, Elijah Bridgers 4, Kolton Giefer 3, Jalen McGarrah 2