William Chrisman High School administrators would have needed a shoe-horn to squeeze any more fans into the Bears gymnasium for this season’s second Battle of Independence.
Earlier this season first-year coach Jake Kates’ Bears topped Noland Road rival Truman 66-53 to claim the Three Trails Trophy, and Wednesday night a strong second half carried Chrisman to a convincing 64-47 win over Van Horn.
Kates liked what he saw from his 3-5 Bears as they used a 35-22 second-half advantage to claim the last win of the 2017 regular season.
“We did some good things in the second half,” Kates said as he accepted congratulations from fans following the big win. “We were supposed to do them in the first half – and that was addressed at halftime – and the guys came out and played a great second half.
“You know, I’m a first-year coach and they have to gain confidence in me, believe in what I’m saying. And even though it took a half to have that happen tonight, I’m very happy with the outcome.”
The crowd pleased Independence School District superintendent Dr. Dale Herl, who saw his son Dawson Herl score 12 points for the Bears.
“Coach Kates and his team have everyone excited about basketball at Chrisman,” Dale Herl said. “We were wondering what type of crowd we’d have tonight because of the holiday break, and look at the stands. This is great – a great atmosphere for both the players and the fans.
“If you were here tonight, you’re going to want to come back and see more Bears games.”
For one half, coach Max Sollars’ Falcons (2-5) gave the Bears all they could handle as Chrisman led 13-12 after one period and 29-25 at halftime.
“They’re a good team,” Kates said when asked about the second Independence rival they have downed this season. “It was back and forth that first half, then we played at the tempo I wanted to play the entire game and the momentum swung in our favor.”
That tempo – pedal to the metal.
“We played so much better the second half, it was really fun,” Dawson Herl said. “We came out and played as a unit – and we really didn’t do that much the first half. With a big guy like Daniel (Carson, a 6-foot-6 forward) in the paint, we need him to touch the ball most every possession.”
Kates agreed, adding, “If Daniel doesn’t touch it, then we need our guards to get in the paint and drive to the basket. When we get a late lead, we can salt it away with our guards.”
Which the Bears did, as they went to a modified four-corner offense until a lane opened to the basket.
Van Horn’s Terrion Seddens led all scorers with 24 points, Joe Crocker and Joell Wilson added 10 each.
Isaiah Jackson led the Bears with 13 points and Kelvyn Mason added 10.
Kates believes the best is yet to come from his Bears, and he is excited about the future.
“This team works so hard in practice, and I’m glad to see that hard work rewarded,” Kates said. “This was a big win, in front of a big crowd. Everyone left excited tonight – our fans, our players and our coaching staff.”