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The Chiefs used nine early turnovers by Lebanon to open a 20-4 lead in the first quarter, and led at the half, 40-16. Kickapoo then opened the second-half by connecting on its first six shots to open up a 58-18 lead. It's only miss during the run was a slam in traffic by freshman Ryan Burland on an inbound pass under the goal. With 3:19 remaining in the third quarter, the Chiefs pulled its varsity starters.
Kickapoo shot 54 percent in the game, led by Simpson who was 7-for-8 from the field and 3-for-3 from 3-point range. The Chiefs got eight points each from Chris Ward and Matthew Ridder.
Kickapoo's only two losses during its recent 12-game stretch has been a 51-50 loss to St. Louis Christian, the No. 5 ranked team in St. Louis according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and a 52-41 loss to Nixa, the state's No. 1 ranked Class 5 team.
"Our depth has improved a bunch," said Kickapoo head coach Dick Rippee. "When you are short-handed like we were, it kind of forces your hand. Guys had to get some experience and now they have some confidence. You have to have some confidence to play this game."
Rippee said the maturation process was evident in a recent rematch against top-ranked Nixa, a potential future opponent in Missouri Class 5 District 11. Kickapoo lost on Dec. 18 at Nixa 67-51 in a contest in which they got down big early. But on Jan. 26, the Chiefs led Nixa 16-5 after one quarter in the championship game of the Nixa Tournament before the top-ranked Eagles rallied for a 52-41 win.
"The two Nixa games were night and day," said Rippee. "We came out on Dec. 18 and had a hard time passing and catching. Last Saturday, it was a completely difference mindset. I think we got confidence and we have 11 guys that can play and a good rotation of eight guys."
Rippee said sophomore guard Tyson Batiste, who recently returned from a foot injury, played some of his best basketball of the season on Friday at Lebanon. Batiste scored three points, all on free throws, but made several spectacular passes in the open floor.
"That is the best he has played all year," said Rippee. "He (Batiste) is getting more comfortable and starting to do some stuff, and mentally, he is getting past some of those hurdles. He was holding back a little bit early ... he is a difference maker."
Lebanon (1-18, 0-5) played without its leading scorer on Friday, junior Tyler Merriott, who recently suffered a broken hand. Dishman said Merriott will likely be out for the remainder of the season. The Jackets also played without senior Devante Chew, junior Josh Archer and freshman Keaton Larimore, who have also been lost to injury this season. Lebanon still has several tough Ozark Conference games remaining, and will host the No. 4 ranked team in Missouri Class 5, Columbia Hickman, on Tuesday.
Lebanon shot 40 percent from the field (12-for-30) on Friday, but were largely done in by 19 turnovers. The Jackets were led by senior post player J.T. Dorris who scored 13 points and senior guard Brock West who added nine.
Kickapoo will next face Glendale on Tuesday.
KICKAPOO 67, LEBANON 35
Kickapoo 22 18 22 5 — 67
Lebanon 7 9 8 11 — 35
Lebanon — Isaac Gillen 2, Chad Howerton 2, Brock West 11, J.T. Dorris 13, Jeffrey Plake 1, Jaden King 3, Nick Pearcy 2, Chris Davis 3.
Kickapoo — Jack Simpson, Tyler Bussell 7, Chris Ward 8, Tyson Batiste 3, Ryan Burland 3, John Fuchs 8, Luke Thomas 2, Parker Dean 2, Matthew Ridder 8, Tyler Hamilton 2, Kyle Campbell 1.