Bears succumb to a reversal of fortune

By Bill Althaus
William Chrisman's Say'V'on Lankford (21) tries to put up a shot under pressure from Rockhurst defenders Reed Cotton, left, and Dawson Williams, right, in Tuesday's game at Chrisman. The host Bears grabbed an 17-15 lead after the first quarter but Rockhurst took over from there to claim a 79-54 win.

For one exciting quarter at William Chrisman High School Tuesday night, in front of an appreciative socially distanced crowd, coach Jake Kates’ Bears gave the visiting Rockhurst Hawklets all they could handle.

The Bears’ ball handling was crisp, they hit the boards at both ends of the court and junior forward Dayne Herl lit up the scoreboard with nine points, as Chrisman took a 17-15 lead into the second quarter.

Then what happened is hard to explain – even for a veteran coach like Kates, who is a real student of the game. It ended with a 79-54 loss.

William Chrisman forward Dayne Herl (23) grabs a rebound in front of Rockhurst's Dawson Williams in Tuesday's game at Chrisman. Herl scored nine points in the first quarter to help the Bears grab a 17-15 lead, but the Hawklets rallied quickly for a 79-54 win.

In the second quarter, the Hawklets transformed into a group of Artful Dodgers, picking the Bears’ pockets with great regularity.

Most of the Chrisman turnovers led to easy Rockhurst layups, and sophomore guard Brian Humphrey found the range from long distance, hitting two of his game-high six 3-pointers as the Hawklets took a 37-27 lead into halftime.

And it didn’t get any easier for the 4-8 Bears in the second half as their offense struggled, while the Hawklets scored 19 points in the third quarter and 22 in the fourth en route to the non-conference win.

Following the game, Kates had a lengthy heart-to-heart postgame chat with his team, and he emerged looking like a man who knows his young team – the Bears lost nine seniors off last year’s squad – is on the right path.

“We didn’t even talk that much about basketball,” Kates said. “What’s happening with this team – and we are young – is finding the right mindset. And we’ll find it. Are we not tough on some nights because we’re so young? Or, is it our inexperience? … We did a lot of good things tonight.

William Chrisman's Sir'Rahn Felix (1) pulls up in the lane for a shot over Rockhurst defender Mason Thompson (11) in their game Tuesday at Chrisman. The host Bears suffered a 79-54 loss.

“I was all fired up after that first quarter, then we became that group of players who play timid basketball, who have a hard time getting off a good shot, or even getting the ball up the court.”

Herl could only manage five points the rest of the way and finished with a team-high 14.

“This is the kind of stuff Chrisman fans saw before our staff came over, and we’re not going to let it happen again,” Kates said. “We did a great job rebuilding this program, and I want to see my guys in 10 years when they are outstanding members of the community, family men and great husbands and fathers.

William Chrisman's Trey Kates, right, drives on Rockhurst's Antonio Johnson in the Bears' 79-54 loss to the Hawklets Tuesday.

“And if they approach life with the same mindset they’re approaching basketball now, they’re going to have a hard time making that happen. I want them to succeed in life. And I believe each and every one of them will succeed.

“We just have to change that mindset, and it will start again tomorrow.”

The Hawklets had five players in double figures with Humphrey finishing with a game-high 20 points.

William Chrisman guard Anthony Watkins, left, drives down court against Rockhurst's Brian Humphrey in Tuesday's game at Chrisman. The Bears led early but Rockhurst cruised to a 79-54 win from there.