Streaking Chrisman gets healthy after early loss to Smithville

Bill Althaus
The Examiner
William Chrisman senior forward Jacque David is fouled by Grandview defender Essence Kendall, left, as she goes up for a shot in their Class 5 sectional playoff Wednesday. David, despite being collapsed on all night by the Bulldogs' defense, managed to tally 15 points and eight rebounds to help lead the Bears to a 48-36 win.

The last time William Chrisman and Smithville hooked up on the basketball court, on Dec. 4 in the season-opening Savannah Tournament, Bears center Jacque David was in the building.

But the senior never took the court. She was still rehabbing from the torn ACL she injured in the 2019-20 season.

Smithville won that game 26-20, and the Warriors are likely going to need a few points now that David has returned as one of the top players in the metro area.

The Bears (22-5) started the season 7-5, including that loss to Smithville. Since David’s return, they have reeled off 15 wins in a row and are unbeaten at home, where they host the Warriors (19-4) at 1 p.m. Saturday in a Class 5 state quarterfinal.

“We’re a win away from going to the final four,” David said Wednesday, “and that’s so new for all the girls on our team. Back when I was still rehabbing from the ACL and we were 7-5, I don’t think any of us were thinking about going to state.

“We just wanted to win a game. I just wanted to get back on the court.”

She had a conversation with coach Scott Schaefer, who promised her that there were plenty of games remaining on the schedule and her return would be crucial to success.

“Coach Schaefer gave me confidence that I could come back as long as I kept going, and I just stuck with it,” added David, who is averaging 13.3 points per game since her return. “I worked so hard to get back, and I’m so glad I did.”

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William Chrisman senior guard Amanda Szopinski, right, drives the ball down court against Grandview's A'myah Bankston in the Bears' 48-36 sectional win Wednesday. Szopinski often prefers to feed Jacque David the ball but has proven she can score too when needed for the 22-5 Bears.

So is senior point guard Amana Szopinski, who was hampered herself earlier this season by an ankle injury. Not that they are both healthy, Szopinski makes sure David gets the ball inside when she’s open.

“Jacque has been a difference-maker for us this season,” Szopinski said. “And she works so hard to get open in the paint and under the basket. When she works that hard, I have to work that hard to make sure she gets the ball.

“Because when she gets the ball, that usually means two points for us.”

Schaefer, whose Bears haven’t lost since Jan. 12 (coincidentally by the same 26-20 score), says his team has settled into a rhythm and formed a special bond on, and off, the court.

“A lot of coaches say this, but I really mean it when I say this team is like a family,” Schaefer said. “They love each other and like families, they make concessions and sacrifices for each other for the good of the team.

“We all know what Jacque means to this team, we know that when she is open, she will get the ball. And we also know that if she is covered, she will kick it back out to a teammate.

“It’s been fun to watch their confidence grow every game, every practice. They’re a special group.”

The Bears defeated Grandview 48-36 in Wednesday’s sectional playoff to reach the quarterfinal, while the Warriors edged Kirksville 57-51 to earn the right to play the Bears. Smithville is led by seniors Christina Walsh, who averages 10.8 points and 6.4 rebounds, and senior Emma Chevalier, who averages 10.1 points and 2.1 steals and shoots 82% from the free throw line.

“We’re certainly a different team and they are a different team since the first time we played,” Schaefer said. “They have a lot of talent, and we’re going to need a complete team effort to win Saturday.

“And that’s what our girls have given us every game recently.”