It was a big day for William Chrisman senior guard Alex Calhoun.
He had four college teams scouting him in Tuesday’s Class 5 District 15 semifinal game against North Kansas City.
His 3-point shot wasn’t falling as much as he was accustomed to, but he found other ways to contribute. He picked up the rebounding and scoring late in the first half when fellow senior guard Isaiah Jackson had to sit with three fouls.
Calhoun was also big late in the game, as well. The senior scored seven of his 19 points in the second overtime period to help lift his team to a 81-72 victory at Liberty High School.
"It’s the little things I pride myself on," Calhoun said of his contributions when his 3-point shot wasn’t falling, "communicate on defense, bring the guys up when they’re down. That’s my role."
"It’s good to get the recognition (from college coaches), but I’ve got to go and keep grinding."
The Bears (17-9) advance to Friday’s 7 p.m. district final against Liberty (20-6), which defeated Fort Osage 70-47 earlier in the day.
Chrisman coach Jake Kates, who collected his 300th career coaching victory, lavished praise on Calhoun.
"Alex was our MVP tonight," Kates said. "Isaiah gets three fouls in the first quarter and he got a lot of rebounds. He was the best rebounder on the floor in the second half. And to get the shots he was getting off rebounds, even on a free throw tip-in, adds that one degree difference that’s on the front of our shirts."
Jackson was also a key factor by scoring a team-high 23 points. There were a handful of times in the two overtime periods in which he found a way to get driving layups even with three or four Hornets clogging the paint.
"It’s my coaches and my teammates," Jackson said of his fearless drives against the zone defense. "They have been preaching to me to get to the rim all the time. They want me to get to the middle and kick it out to our shooters."
One of those shooters was sophomore Cam Dickerson, who made some clutch shots in both overtime periods. He chipped in with 15 points.
"We’ve known that he had that ability, we had confidence in him," Kates said of Dickerson, who started the season on the junior varsity squad. "Now he’s matching that confidence in himself. We’re excited about his future."
Added Dickerson about playing heavy minutes: "It means a lot to me. I am happy Coach trusts me with the ball."
Chrisman was in trouble early as it trailed 18-12 at the end of the first period and 39-25 at halftime. The Bears stormed back in the third, ending it on a 12-6 run to cut the Hornets’ lead to 49-45.
Chrisman briefly regained the lead after a Calhoun tip-in, two Jackson free throws and a free throw from Dickerson made it 50-49 with 6:06 left. The team traded leads four times and the Bears eventually took a 60-55 advantage after Jackson drew four defenders in the paint on the dribble drive and found Dickerson in the right corner for a trey.
Northtown answered with a conventional three-point play from Jack Hanson and a steal and fast-break layup from Cyan Evans to tie it at 60.
Jackson was fouled with 8.5 seconds left but, in a rare moment, he missed both of his free throws. Northtown had a chance to win it, but a floater from D’Anthony Pennington and a tip-in attempt by Malik Johnson missed, sending it to overtime.
The Hornets had another chance to win it late in the first overtime when Pennington stripped Jackson off a trap. It looked like Northtown was going to have a two-on-zero break, but Jackson hustled back on defense and fouled Pennington.
Pennington, a UMKC commit who had a game-high 30 points, made the first of two free throws with 5.6 seconds left to make it 67-all, but missed the second one. Chrisman didn’t get a shot off, which sent it to double overtime.
"He’s going Division I for a reason," Jackson said of Pennington. "It’s a tough challenge guarding him."
Chrisman started the second extra session on a 4-0 run capped by another driving layup from Jackson. After Hanson made a layup to cut it to 71-69, the Bears went on a 6-0 spurt to put it away. In that span, Calhoun made two free throws and a tip-in off a missed free throw, making it 77-69.
"That was a big, big play for us," Jackson said of the tip-in. "I give him player of the game."
Chrisman cruised from there, making 4 of 6 free throws to seal it. After winning a thriller, the Bears turn their attention to the top-seeded Blue Jays.
"Different styles," Kates said. "They are bigger than us. We are faster than them. I think it will be an interesting matchup."
Senior guard Marus Wigfall added 10 points for the Bears.