The Yellow Jackets played three games in four days, finishing 2-1. The Jackets completed a two-game season sweep of Zeigler-Royalton, but then lost to Sesser-Valier, allowing the Red Devils to sweep them for 2021. After the three games, the Yellow Jackets are 6-2 in the conference and 7-3 overall.
CHS 65, Z-R 50
In this conference matchup on Feb. 24, the Tornadoes swirled around to an 18-10 lead in the first quarter behind the hot hands of Gannon Dollins, Landen Bate and Rick Chekevdia who each had six points apiece. Chester's Jared Landeros carried the Jackets with six points on a pair of field goals and back-to-back free throws. Jordan Merideth and Nate Heffernan each added two points apiece.
In the second period the Yellow Jackets outscored ZR 15-11, but trailed 29-25 at halftime. for the quarter Landeros hit a three and a field goal and was 1 for 3 at the free-throw line. Jordan Hughes hit a pair of layups and added one free throw and both Meredith and Heffernan connected for field goals.
After halftime Chester's offense came alive even more, outscoring the Tornadoes 23-11 to take an eight-point lead, 48-40 after three quarters of play. During that period the Jackets went to the free-throw line 16 times and made 11. Landeros was at the line 11 times, hitting nine shots.
Also during that run, Landeros and Heffernan popped 3-pointers, and Eli Hughes, Jordan Hughes and Matt Korando connected for two-pointers.
In the final period CHS outscored ZR 17-10 to win the contest handily.
The Tornadoes sent Landeros to the line 12 more times in the final quarter of play. If that was a strategy it was a bad one: Landeros nine more free shots for a total of 21 free throws for the game, a school record.
In that final stretch, Nate Heffernan hit another three-pointer and Matt Korando and Trace Fricke each knocked down field goals to help seal the win for Chester.
Chester: The Jackets were led by Jared Landeros with 33, thought to be the most points scored by a Yellow Jacket since Steve Sherrill made 57 and 37 points in games against Pinckneyville in 1964-65. Other CHS scorers were Jordan Hughes (10), Nate Heffernan (10), Matt Korando (4), Jordan Merideth (4), Eli Hughes (2) and Trace Fricke (2).
Zeigler-Royalton: The Tornadoes were paced by Gannon Dollins (18); followed by Rick Chekevdia (14), Landen Bate (7), Cole Gelso (4), Nick McKinney (2), Wyatt Sherwin (2), Cole Freeman (2), and Joe Earl (1).
CHS 70, Z-R 49
Feb. 25 was Senior Night for the Yellow Jackets and prior to the game CHS honored two senior cheerleaders, Lauren Soellner and Kennedy Herrell, and five basketball players, Noah Colonel, Matt Korando, Eli Hughes, Jordan Hughes and Nate Heffernan.
As a special feature for the evening, Coach Brad Norman honored team manager Noah Colonel for his years of hard work and dedication to the program by allowing him to dress for the game and even started him in the starting lineup.
Colonel scored the first Chester points of the game and tied the score at 2-2 less than two minutes into the contest. His basket just missed being a three-pointer bringing literally everyone in Colbert Gymnasium to their feet.
The first quarter had four ties and three lead changes before the buzzer sounded with Chester in the lead, 20-14. Jordan Hughes hit back-to-back-to-back deuces during that stretch for six points and added a fourth two-pointer with 5 seconds on the clock to end the period.
The Tornadoes outscored the Jackets, 10-9 in the opening 3:41 of the second quarter to pull within seven points, 31-24, before a mask timeout halted the clock with 3:46 remaining in the half.
In the final 3:46 Chester shut out ZR with a 7-0 run that put the Jackets up 38-24 at halftime. Gavin Schroeder was fouled in while shooting a three-pointer at the buzzer, and hit all three free shots.
ZR's Trevor Mills drained a 3-pointer to kick off the second half. Chester's Jordan Hughes answered with back-to-back free throws to give the Jackets a 50-27 lead at 7:00. Gannon Dollins and Cole Freeman then made two-pointers and ZR trailed, 40-31, with 6:08 to play in the third.
In the closing 5:29 Jared Landeros scored six points on a three-pointer and three free throws, and Nate Heffernan popped a pair of treys. Zeigler-Royalton's Landen Bate also came alive, making two two-pointers and a trey. Chester led, 52-38, at the end of three quarters.
In the fourth, the Jackets ran away from the Tornadoes, outscoring them 18-11. Jared Landeros went to the free-throw line six times making five throws in the final 8:00.
Coach Norman put Noah Colonel back in the game with 1:30 remaining, where he drained a three-pointer and made a layup at the buzzer to ice the win for Chester, 70-49.
With Colonel's buzzer-beater the crowd once again went crazy. Coach Norman jumped high in the air from the bench and all other coaches and players were dancing and cheering loudly as Colonel left the floor.
"Not only did he start, but he scored 7 points and handled his postgame interview like a pro," Norman said.
"He is smart, funny, always on time, and has a great work ethic. We are so thankful for all that Noah does for our Yellow Jacket family!"
Chester: The Jackets were led once again by Jared Landeros with 24 points, followed by Jordan Hughes (15), Nate Heffernan (13), Noah Colonel (7), Gavin Schroeder (6), Matt Korando (3), and Trace Fricke (2).
Zeigler-Royalton: Landen Bate (15) led the Tornadoes, followed by Cole Freeman (10), Nick McKinney (7), Gannon Dollins (6), Talon Mills (5), Rick Chekevdia (4), and Wyatt Sherwin (2).
Sesser 60, CHS 46
On Saturday the Jackets hit the road again, this time to play Sesser-Valier. Sesser is a tough venue in which to play, as Chester discovered. The Red Devils outscored the Jackets 16-6 in the first quarter, in which Jared Landeros scored just one basket and Eli Hughes hit back-to-back buckets.
The second quarter was a bit better, but the Jackets still weren't playing up to their normal fast tempo game. Nate Heffernan hit a trey and a two-pointer and Matt Korando and Jordan Hughes each hit baskets. Trace Fricke knocked down a pair of free throws and Chester trailed, 24-17 after one half.
Things did not get any better in the second half as the Devils outscored CHS, 23-12, in the third. Landeros added a basket as did Heffernan and Fricke. Jordan Hughes hit a bucket and made a free throw as did Gavin Schroeder.
A lackluster Jacket squad limped into the fourth quarter down by 18 points, 47-29. In the final 8:00 CHS did outscore Sesser, 17-13, but it was too little too late as the Jackets lost the contest by 14 points, 60-46. Nate Heffernan scored twice as did Jared Landeros. Eli Hughes and Matt Korando added two points apiece, and Jordan Hughes made a basket and three free throws.
After the game, Coach Norman said, "We just didn't play very well tonight. I think we were tired and had low energy. We have had a long week and just had little juice left after three games in four days."