William Chrisman girls basketball coach Scott Schaefer viewed Saturday’s game against Fort Osage as a “trap game.”
The Bears defeated their U.S. 24 rivals twice in the regular season by a combined 65 points, so Schaefer didn’t want his team to let up due to past success. They didn’t.
Chrisman used full-court pressure to force Fort Osage into 23 turnovers and scored 14 points off of them in a 50-18 win Saturday in the first round of the Class 5 District 15 tournament.
“If you don’t come out and get something going early, then it gives them an opportunity to stay in the game,” Schaefer said. “I am really happy with our kids even though we turned the ball over in the first half.”
The Bears (14-11) advanced to Monday’s semifinals to face No. 1 seed Liberty (24-0), which is ranked No. 1 in the state in the Missouri High School Basketball Coaches Association poll.
Schaefer’s team has managed to hit its stride recently, winning eight of its last nine games. And the Bears have done that without 6-foot forward Jacque David, the Bears’ top scorer and rebounder last season who was lost this season due to an ACL injury.
However, players like junior Gia Moore, senior Jennifer David, junior Amanda Szopinski and freshman Mele Taula have helped keep Chrisman afloat.
Jennifer David has emerged as the primary presence inside with the absence of her sister, Jacque. She scored 11 points on Saturday and got some help in the paint from Taula, who added eight points.
With Jacque David’s injury, the Bears have shifted to a more balanced approach, which has allowed guards like Moore and Szopinski to thrive. Moore broke a shooting slump, making a trio of 3-pointers on her way to 11 points. Szopinski scored 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
“Our shots just kept going in and we were hustling,” Jennifer David said. “We played hard because we lost Senior Night to Belton. That gave us motivation to play hard today.
“There’s a lot of girls who have stepped on the bench after we had some players hurt. As we got healthier. We had to adjust a little bit to get some underclassmen to play hard.”
It was an overall dominant performance from the Bears, who shot 22 of 43 (51 percent) from the field. They led 10-5 at the end of the first period, but pushed the advantage to 26-7 at halftime. Chrisman then put it away with a big third quarter in which they ballooned the lead to 45-11.
“We had been missing a lot of shots lately, so that was nice to see them go in today,” Schaefer said. “Gia was in a slump, so it was nice to see her make some.”
Chrisman also got it done on defense as well, holding Fort Osage to just 6-of-34 shooting (17.6 percent). The Indians didn’t reach double digit points until there was 13 seconds left in the third period.
“It took us a good 16 minutes to get our feet underneath us,” Fort Osage coach Lindsay Thompson said. “It was frustrating, but there is not a single kid on this team who started in a district game a year ago. And only one or two of them got into the district game last year.
“I think there were nerves before the game. They have never done this before.”
Fort Osage ends its season at 6-19 and will lose two seniors to graduation. Junior Katelyn Ward led the Indians with eight points.