The CHS Lady Jackets tied for first place in the Midwinter Carbondale Classic played Jan. 21-25, with Massac County and McCracken County, Kentucky, but lost out on the trophy.
By beating 3A schools Carbondale, Marion and Mt. Vernon the Jackets were tied for the best record in this shootout format tournament, which had six schools: Carbondale, Chester, McCracken County, Marion, Massac County and Mt. Vernon.
Tournament Manager Marialice Jenkins, Carbondale High School's assistant athletic director, said to determine the trophy winner, they first looked at the number of points each of three schools allowed: Chester and McCracken County both allowed 103 and Massac County allowed 132.
With Massac County eliminated, officials looked at free-throw shooting. McCracken County made 32-of-46 free throws (69.5%) while Chester made 45-of-69 free throws (65%).
Thus the McCracken County Lady Mustangs won the trophy.
CHS Head Coach Pat Knowles said if Marion had scored just one more point against McCracken County that morning, "We would have won the tiebreaker in the first round of determination."
No matter, Knowles added, since his girls played hard with lots of heart, beating three schools with more than 1,000 students apiece. "We are a 2A school with about 350 students, and we were undefeated at 3-0 for the week."
Chester's Destiny Williams was the tournament Most Valuable Player and Reese Chandler was selected to the 2020 All-Tournament Team.
Meanwhile, Jenkins said the Midwinter Classic would prefer to have eight teams and go back to playing a bracket tournament.
"I would love to get two more teams to come next year so we could return to the bracket format," she said. "If anyone knows of two more teams that would like to join us, please let me know."
Chester 58; Carbondale 18
The Jackets raced out to a 7-0 lead to start the game and led 14-4 after the first quarter, behind the play of Destiny Williams who scored 10 points in the opening eight minutes. In the second period, Chandler got hot from behind the arc and drained three treys for nine points. Kendall Williams connected on a three-pointer and a duce and Trinity Brown and Kailyn Absher each made baskets. The Jackets led, 33-7 at halftime.
"We got a big lead early and played great defense tonight," Knowles said. "I was very happy with our shooting, but our defense has been keeping us in games lately."
Things even got better after the break as Destiny Williams, Trinity Brown and Kendall Williams combined for 17 points and Reese Chandler made her fourth three-pointer of the game. A continuous clock was in effect in the fourth quarter and freshman Ashlyn Colvis, Destiny Williams and Josie Kattenbraker added to the Chester total.
Chester 39; Marion 37
As good as Chester shot two nights before against Carbondale, against Marion the Jackets were as cold as the weather outside. Chester shot 20 percent from the field making just 12 of 59 shots against the Lady Wildcats. Marion led, 9-2 at the end of the first quarter, as Jerzy Bittle kept the Wildcats rolling with a three-pointer and short jumper for five points, and Joran Turner and Meagan Dillon added field goals. The Chester defense actually did a good job of holding the Cats to just nine points.
In the second quarter, CHS senior Destiny Williams did what she does best when her team is down -- come alive. She hit 2-for-2 free throws, then added a trey and a two-pointer. Junior Josie Kattenbraker became very active on defense, and then drained a huge three-pointer to start the ball rolling for CHS to end the half. Kendall Williams finished the second quarter 12-9 run for CHS by making 2-of-3 free throws. At the half Chester trailed by only four points, 18-14.
Both teams came out of the break somewhat cold, but Chester managed to get a one-point lead, 23-22 after three quarters. Destiny Williams continued to inspire her team by driving hard to the hoop, hitting a field goal and sinking back-to-back free throws. Josie Kattenbraker battled inside and hit a basket, and Reese Chandler added a free throw to bring the Jackets within striking distance. With seconds remaining in the quarter and Chester down by two, Destiny Williams hit a "buzzer-beater" to take the lead, 23-22.
The fourth quarter was anybody's game right up to the end. Marion hit a field goal and free throw to retake the lead, 25-23. Kendall Williams drained a three-pointer for the Jackets, Marion hit a basket, and then Destiny Williams drove hard to the hoop for two. Marion hit a shot for two, but Kendall Williams had a hard-driving layup to retake the lead for Chester, 30-29 with under three minutes to play.
Marion's Jerzy Bittle hit a three ball at the 2:38 mark. Seconds later Reese Chandler was sent to the free-throw line and made one throw to bring Chester within one point, 32-31. At the 1:59 mark, Marion struck again to give the Wildcats a 34-31 lead. Then Kendall Williams fouled out of the game with 1:34 remaining, and sent Marion's Jordan Turner to the line. She made one free throw and the Cats led, 35-31.
Just when it was starting to look dark for Chester, Destiny Williams drained a huge three-pointer, cutting Marion's lead to 1.
Chester sent Marion's Jordan Turner to the free-throw line for two shots, but she missed both. With 21 seconds to play, Chester's Destiny Williams stole the ball, drove the length of the floor, and made a hard driving layup. The Jackets now led, 36-35. Seven seconds later, Williams went to the free-throw line with 13.9 seconds remaining. As cool as a cucumber, Williams swished both shots to extend Chester's lead, 38-35.
On Marion's next and final possession, Jerzy Bittle was fouled and went to the line for two free throws, hitting both and pulling her team within 1 point, 38-37. With 6.6 seconds, Marion fouled Destiny Williams. She made one throw to give CHS a two-point lead, 39-37.
Marion could not get a shot off in the final 6.6 seconds and the Lady Jackets won a hard-fought basketball game.
"Our girls out-hustled and outworked Marion tonight," Knowles said. "They remained calm down the stretch when it counted and continued to play their game."
Chester 65; Mt. Vernon 48
Coach Knowles was of the opinion that the Rams might be the Jacket's toughest competition of the tournament, and indeed they led 15-10 after the first quarter. Also, Trinity Brown started the game on the bench because of the ankle injury she got in the Marion game. She did dress, however, and was prepared to play if needed.
Mt. Vernon's Kennady Hayes opened the second quarter with a three-pointer and the Lady Rams extended their lead to 18-10. But Lady Jacket Alyssa Seymour got tough and banged in back-to-back baskets down low. Lady Ram Kodie Van Eycke made two free throws and Mt. Vernon was up six points, 20-14.
Destiny Williams hit three free throws and Josie Kattenbraker had a three-pointer and CHS was suddenly within three points, 22-20. The Rams then had a 6-0 run of their own, but Chester responded with a 7-3 run. Chester was sithin four points, 31-27, at the half.
To open the third, Chester and Mt. Vernon traded three-pointers. Destiny Williams popped a three in the opening 30 seconds, followed by a 3 from Mt. Vernon's Kennady Hayes. Destiny Williams was fouled and hit both shots; Kendall Williams was fouled on the next possession and hit a free throw. The Jacket defense was holding Mt. Vernon scoreless during this stretch. Destiny Williams hit her second three-pointer of the quarter but Mt. Vernon immediately tied the game, 36-36, on a Macey Prosise field goal. The back and forth continued and as the buzzer sounded Mt. Vernon led, 46-43.
The fourth quarter began with Trinity Brown coming off the Chester bench and hitting a three-pointer to tie the game, 46-46. She was fouled and hit both shots. Mt. Vernon's Claire Heinzman answered with a two-pointer to tie the game at 48-48, but that would be the Rams' last points of the game as Chester's defense took over.
The Jackets would end the final 6:22 on a 17-0 scoring spree to win the game, 65-48. During the fourth quarter, Mt. Vernon seemed to tire out and after the Lady Jackets secured the lead, the Lady Rams appeared to panic under the pressure of the swarming Lady Jacket defense.