It looked like the Lady Chiefs would be the stars of the night after picking up another quality win Tuesday, but the McIntosh boys stole the headlines with a huge upset of top-ranked Sandy Creek.
On paper, the Patriots (8-4) would have been heavy favorites, sporting the number one ranking in AAAA by Sandy’s Spiel, while the Chiefs (4-9) have been on a bumpy road with an all-new team.
“My guys always play hard. They played smarter tonight,” said McIntosh coach Jason Eisele. “We had mismatches all over the floor. We talked about the fact that we don’t match up with them player-for-player, so we’ve got to play as a team.”
Not far removed from a six-game losing streak, McIntosh was unfazed by its fearsome foe, scoring a momentum-building 73-66 win.
“It’s a good start to the new year. That’s a good one for us to get a little bit of confidence,” said Eisele. “When we watch the film and see what we did right and what we did wrong, we’ll continue learning. That’s really what this is all about, getting better every time you step on the court. Hopefully this is another piece.”
Losing the core of the team that completed the most dominant run in program history left the Chiefs in a tough spot to start the season, but they are turning the corner in time for region play.
“Our last two games over Christmas, we started to come together. We always knew from the very beginning of the season it was going to take a minute for us to jell. This is another stepping stone for us,” said Eisele. “We’ve still got a ways to go, and that’s what I’m excited about with this team. I don’t think we’ve begun to touch our potential.”
The Chiefs showed they could punch with the Patriots right out of the gate. Naj Ashley-Emory started the scoring on a layup and Bruce Carpenter hit a 3-pointer. Xavier Brewer responded with a trey for the Patriots to tie the game at 5-5.
Point guard Chaz Hardin sparked the Chiefs all night, driving and dishing to Joseph Cummings for two and then swiping a pass and taking it himself for a layup. Will Stowman came off the bench and notched a pair of blocks to preserve McIntosh’s lead at 11-9 after one quarter.
Stowman chipped in on the offensive end with a bucket, and Cole Guenther sank a three early in the second. Their lead would grow as large as ten at 25-15 midway through the quarter when Cummings hit two free throws on a technical foul.
Sandy Creek started heating up, with Brewer and Evan Jester each hitting from long range. Jester pulled the Patriots within two on a steal and two-handed dunk, but Guenther pushed them back with a three. Hardin extended McIntosh’s lead to 36-31 at the half on a circus shot.
The Patriots came out of the break fired up, stringing together a 13-0 run with big buckets from Jarred Godfrey. Even after the Chiefs broke up the run, Sandy Creek kept surging, peaking with a nine-point lead at 48-39.
It was the Chiefs’ turn to respond, Bruce Carpenter and Stowman scoring to slice the gap to five points. Chris Porter put the Patriots back on the attack with five-straight points, but Guenther hit another 3-pointer to keep within 56-48 after three quarters.
Guenther heated up when his team needed him most, notching a putback and sinking a trey to get within five.
“He was a game-time decision for us,” said Eisele of Guenther, who battled through a wrist injury. “He ended up playing big minutes for us. That was arguably his best game of the season.”
Jester responded with back-to-back buckets, but the Chiefs were far from done. Garrett LeClaire hit a huge three to spur a key 7-0 run to take the lead. After feeding Carpenter and Guenther, Hardin took care of it himself on a steal and coast-to-coast layup to pull ahead 64-62 with 3:35 to play. Guenther added another steal, passing to Hardin, who dished to Carpenter for two more.
Sandy Creek got its closest late on a Brewer three to stay within 66-65, but the Chiefs closed the game out on a 7-1 run. The defensive intensity they brought all night was the finisher. Hardin stole the ball off an inbounds pass and missed a shot, but Stowman stole it right back with just nine seconds to play. Stowman sank both freebies to ice the 73-66 win.
Cole Guenther led the Chiefs in scoring with 22 points, including 4-for-5 on 3-pointers with 10 rebounds. Chaz Hardin posted 13 points and 12 assists. Joseph Cummings added 15 points and 6 rebounds.
Evan Jester paced the Patriots with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Jarred Godfrey posted 11 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds. Xavier Brewer tallied 15 points and 6 rebounds.
The Lady Chiefs (11-2) are red hot, winners of five straight after a 49-44 victory over Sandy Creek in a hard-fought game.
“It was a good game and a great win against a very good team,” said McIntosh coach David Dowse. “I’m very proud of our group. I feel good and very fortunate to come out of it with a win.”
McIntosh knew it had to be sharp to topple a much-improved Sandy Creek squad under the leadership of first-year coach Janie Hodges. The Lady Patriots (8-4) are already just one victory away from last year’s win total.
“Coach Hodges has done a wonderful job with that group getting them to play hard,” praised Dowse. “Scheme-wise they’re solid. They’ve worked hard fundamentally. She should be commended.”
Sandy Creek grabbed the early momentum, scoring the game’s first five points on a Kasey Toles 3-pointer and a Paris Thompson bucket. The Chiefs got on the board with a Rylee Calhoun steal and long pass to Kennedi Miller for a pair, but the Patriots kept pushing with a Morghan Currie basket and an assist to Amara Owoh as their lead grew to seven points.
McIntosh chipped at away at the lead courtesy of a trio of Calhoun 3-pointers to pull within one. Currie added a little cushion with a jumper to give her squad an 18-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Chiefs stepped up in the second quarter, limiting the Patriots to just six points in the frame. They took their first lead of the night at 20-18 on bucket from DeLayne Rotolo in the paint. A three from Savannah Soles and a Mikayla Rivers putback had the Chiefs on a 10-0 run before the Patriots answered with back-to-back baskets from Quaylia Stanton. Rivers scored the half’s final points as the Chiefs held a 27-24 advantage at the break.
The shots kept falling for the Chiefs as Soles sank a pair of treys early in the third, but Sandy Creek would not go away, Daija Powell hustling for a loose ball and feeding Currie for two, then Powell on the receiving end of an assist to get back within 34-32. Rotolo and Toles traded threes as McIntosh’s lead stood at 37-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
Stanton tied the game back up to start the fourth on a baseline bucket, but Soles pulled down a rebound and kicked out to Calhoun for three and another Chief lead.
“They’re a tough team for us to match up with underneath. They’re big and strong,” said Dowse. “Considering those things, I thought we rebounded pretty well down the stretch.”
Rotolo scored consecutive buckets before the Patriots charged, Thompson pulling her team ahead 44-42 with two minutes to play.
McIntosh faced down the adversity and shut out the Patriots down the stretch.
“I challenged them. You’ve got to want it more. You’ve got to want to rebound more. You’ve got to want to score more,” said Dowse. “That’s what you’ve got to do against good teams.”
Calhoun was fouled shooting from long range and made all three free throws to grab the lead back with one minute left. She hit two more to extend the lead to three, and Rotolo sank a pair to finish off the 49-44 win.
McIntosh is feeling good of late, but it knows there is much work left to do.
“I look at our schedule, and it sure doesn’t get any easier. Our region is tough,” said Dowse, who sought to put together a challenging slate of games to get his girls ready. “Our schedule, even beyond the region, is challenging in hopes that, come region tournament and hopefully beyond, we’ll be tested and ready.”
Rylee Calhoun led the Chiefs with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. DeLayne Rotolo added 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals. Savannah Soles chipped in 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
To purchase photos, click [btn type=”default or primary or success or info or warning or danger or link” link=”http://www.cdphotography23.com/Sports/High-School/Basketball/Basketball-20162017/McIntosh-vs-Sandy-Creek”]here[/btn].