In my first visit to Smithville I had no idea what to expect. As I walked in to the homey two decked tradition rich gymnasium the Smithville JV team was completing a 4 point comeback victory in the last 60 seconds. The place was jumping! The excitement didn’t last long…
For most of the first quarter turnovers and poor shooting lulled the fans from a frenzy to a snoozefest, only to be awakened long enough to dispute the referees. Smithville held a underwhelming 2-1 lead long into the opening quarter before a couple buckets in closing seconds gave Chippewa the 6-2 advantage after one.
Both teams seemed to be passive and overly patient, which isn’t what you’d expect from a Chippewa team who had put up 76 points twice already in four games. They seemed to snap out of it while Smithville remained sluggish in the 2nd, taking a 20-5 lead into the break.
The second half quickly seen a new determination from Smithville and the next level skills of Olivia Besancon. Scoring 12 of the teams 14, and her game high 17, in the 3rd quarter, she cut the lead in half. Her natural jump shot combined with a very high basketball IQ and awareness brought the Smithies within eight after 3, down 27-19.
Smithville just didn’t have enough on the offensive end in the final quarter to take the game, though they had plenty of chances! Several defensive stops down the stretch allowed the Smithies to make a move, however missed foul shots and turnovers prevented that. Chippewa hung on, pretty sloppily, to end the Smithies 49 game regular season win streak.
The thing I was most impressed by with Chippewa was that it was a team effort. The two stars, Carly Koncz and Ashley Richardson, only combined for 7 points. 6′ freshman Taylor Richards came up big with 11 points and junior Maegan Storad chipped in 8.
I’m not as convinced as I was to start the season that Chippewa is the team to beat in D3 in the area, given Manchester is playing lights out. However they are very young and they will get sharper as the season moves on. Given their abundance of talent and height they will certainly be there at the end and for the next several years!