When the William Chrisman boys basketball team made a run to the Class 5 state quarterfinals last season, its incredible season was predicated on depth.
The Bears had a rotation of eight players, who all were a threat to score. That’s what made them incredibly difficult to guard. Even with the loss of two key seniors – Kelvyn Mason, Jalen Moore, Tony Hilton and Dawson Herl – Chrisman still can boast about its depth this season.
Jake Kates’ team used a rotation of 10 players, nine of whom entered the scoring column, as the Bears’ unselfish play catapulted them to a 62-51 win over U.S. 24 and Suburban Middle Seven rival Fort Osage Friday at home, pushing their winning streak to four games.
“We found some depth that ... we knew we could have, but some of these guys are starting to step up,” Kates said. “That’s key when you want to make a run in the postseason. (Zachariah Rowe) just didn’t have it tonight, and some of our younger guys picked up some minutes.”
Late in the game, Kates trusted some of his younger players to help finish, including sophomores Cameron Dickerson and Ralph Covington. Covington had a key putback layup late in the fourth that gave the Bears their biggest lead at 14.
“Cam Dickerson and Ralph have been doing this all season for us,” Kates said of giving his team quality minutes. “Ralph even hammered a dunk in the JV game. He’s really coming alive.”
Added Covington: “I was trying to get all the rebounds I could get. Even though I had trouble finishing, I made up for it on defense by poking the ball away and getting as many rebounds as I could.”
Covington, senior Lester Davis and junior Alex Atagi were tasked with guarding Fort Osage forwards Xavier Kahube (6-foot-6) and Triston Turner (6-foot-5), both of whom are normally the focal points of the Indians’ offense. Kahube led Fort Osage with 16 points and Turner added 11, but their points didn’t come without difficulty.
The Bears forwards guarded the Fort duo effectively throughout and the guards made it difficult for passes to get to them in the paint.
“I think they did really well. They fronted the post really well,” Chrisman senior guard Marcus Wigfall said of Chrisman’s post players. “Their defense was a lot of the reason we won this game. They also rebounded well for us.”
On offense, the Bears spread the ball around to everyone. Senior guard Isaiah Jackson led Chrisman with 21 points. He got his normal points at the free throw line and driving to the basket, but he has added another dimension to his game this season. He made two 3-pointers Friday, something he rarely did in his first three seasons.
For Jackson, it’s something that he’s had to work on before playing at Northwest Missouri State after graduation.
“It’s something I have been hearing from the next-level coaches at Northwest,” Jackson said. “Getting that shot ready is important. I need it to improve my game.”
And he had plenty of help from his teammates, as Alex Calhoun added 12 points and seven others scored three or more.
“They all stepped up,” Jackson said of the underclassmen. “They gave us seniors a breather when he needed it. That was really big for us.”
The Indians once again struggled late in a game. A Turner layup narrowed the Bears’ lead to 50-46 late in the fourth period before a 12-5 Bears run put it away.
“We have a size advantage over them, but when you get Marcus and Isaiah digging in quickly on Triston or Kahube, it makes it hard,” Fort Osage coach Josh Wilson said. “We made a little run there, but we have to do a better job at the end of the basketball game.
“I think we missed four or five free throws again in the fourth quarter. We had a couple of decent looks but they were quick looks.”
Chrisman withstood nine first-quarter points from Kahube to take a 21-19 lead and the Bears ballooned that advantage to 37-28 by halftime. Chrisman expanded it to 50-40 going into the fourth quarter before shutting the door late in the period.
WILLIAM CHRISMAN 50, FORT OSAGE 18: Even without star player Jacque David, who is out for the season with an ACL injury, the Chrisman girls are still playing good basketball lately.
The Bears won their fifth straight game as they dominated the rival Indians in a Suburban Middle Seven Conference showdown.
Chrisman (11-10, 5-3 Middle Six) led 14-9 after the first period then exploded for 18 points in the second quarter to go into the locker room up 32-12. The Bears cruised from there as senior Jennifer David led the way with 15 points followed by 14 from junior Gia Moore.
Junior Katelyn Ward led Fort Osage (6-14, 2-7) with eight points.