The Lady Jackets started the season with three games at the Sparta Girls Invitational Tournament and followed in Week 2 with four games in five days. With a roster of only ten girls and one out with an injury, it has been a rough opening two weeks of the 2021-22 season.
The Jackets hosted the Wesclin Lady Warriors Monday, Nov. 29, at CHS Colbert Gymnasium. It was the season opener in the Illinois Division of the Cahokia Conference, the home opener for the Lady Jackets and the inaugural conference game for Chester in the Cahokia Conference.
CHS fought hard throughout the entire game but lost steam in the second half, falling to Wesclin, 60-49. Tuesday, Nov. 30, the Jackets took on Gibault of Waterloo, Illinois. The ladies from Popeye Town led the entire game, closing down the Lady Hawks 72-52 for their second win of the season.
Thursday, Dec. 2, Chester hosted the Carlyle Lady Indians in the second conference game. Carlyle had to fight hard to stay ahead of the Lady Jackets but used big first and third quarters to hold the lead, eventually pulling off a 10-point victory, 55-45.
The Chester girls ended the week with a huge 63-17 win Friday Dec. 3 at Colbert when the Cobden Lady Appleknockers came to town. It was a nonconference matchup and the Jackets flew out of the hive at the opening tipoff and never looked back. The win improved the Lady Jackets to a 3-4 overall record.
Wesclin 60, Chester 49
The opening quarter had the Warriors leading by just three points, 15-12. CHS led, 5-0 in the first 30 seconds. Freshman Rylie Conley hit two 3-pointers in the opening frame to pace Chester.
Wesclin's Lauren Marks answered with two treys of her own for the Lady Warriors. Wesclin led by 5 points with 59 seconds remaining in the quarter, but Chester's Jazzi Merideth, a sophomore, hit two clutch free throws with just 38 seconds left to bring the Jackets within three points.
On the next play, Merideth had a steal and drove the length of the floor with a chance to get the Lady Jackets within 1 but missed her intended layup.
In the second period, both teams scored 12 points. Wesclin started the quarter on a 4-0 run to extend the Warrior lead to 19-12. Chester's Camrynn Howie hit 3-pointers and a pair of free throws and Kailyn Absher hit a field goal and two free throws to set the tone for Chester.
The Jackets got within one point, 23-22, with 4:14 remaining in the half. Chester then took a time out and came out of the break with a steal and a basket to take a 24-23 lead.
Wesclin then hit a field goal and took a 25-24 lead at the 2:30 mark. To close out the half, the Warriors stole the ball from Chester and Wesclin's Alanna Stewart hit a buzzer-beater to give Wesclin a 27-24 halftime lead.
Both teams exchanged baskets to start the second half. Chester pulled within 1 point, 29-28, with 4:19 to play in the third quarter behind field goals by Howie and Alysa Seymour.
Wesclin then went on a 9-0 run to extend their slim lead to 38-28 at the 2:17 mark. In the final minutes the Jackets could only muster up 1 more point on a Howie free throw. Wesclin hit another buzzer-beater to end the 3rd quarter and lead 40-29.
In the final quarter both teams scored 20 points, basically canceling each other out to end the game. In that 20-point extravaganza Chester's Seymour knocked down 16 points on six field goals with hard drives to the basket and a pair of free throws. Howie followed suit and hit three buckets.
In the loss, the Jackets were led by Seymour, who had another double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Howie recorded 14 points and 5 assists. Conley had 9 points and 3 assists while Kailyn Absher added 6 points and 9 rebounds. Jazzi Merideth added 2 points.
Wesclin was paced by four girls in double figures including Marks (17), Hailey Rakers (14), Stewart (10) and Lexi Oster (10). Gianna Bilbruck rounded out the Lady Warrior attack with 9 points.
"We just had too many turnovers. We didn't contest their shots like we wanted to and thy shot the ball really well," said Chester head coach Clint Cowan. "Our girls didn't quit, though. I liked our rebounding. We need to start moving without the ball on offense and setting screens for our guards up top.
"We also need to start getting the ball inside more and improve on the little things. I have 100% confidence in these girls and think we will get these things corrected!"
With the loss the Lady Jackets fell to 1-3 overall and opened the Cahokia Conference record at 0-1.
Chester 72, Gibault 52
On Tuesday, Nov. 30, CHS hosted the Gibault Lady Hawks. Chester led 20-9 after one quarter of play and 31-22 halftime. The Jackets outscored Gibault 22-18 in the third quarter and 19-12 to close out the game. The Lady Jackets won 72-52 to improve to 2-3 overall.
Chester's Seymour had her second double-double of the week with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Conley had a great game with 15 points and Kailyn Absher added 14 points and 9 rebounds.
Merideth was Chester's fourth player to score in double figures with 10 points. She also recorded two assists. Howie scored 9 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out a team-high 12 assists. Rounding out the Lady Jacket offense were Hanna Colvis, Emma Diskey, and Maleia Absher, who each scored 2 points apiece.
Gibault had two players in double figures including K. Small, who scored a game-high 29 points and B. Baldridge, who had 12 points. Other Lady Hawk scorers included E, Schmidt (6), S. Steible (3), and L. Mesch
Cowan said: "We played a complete game tonight. From start to finish we worked as a team, took care of the ball, rebounded well, and got everyone involved. This was by far the best game we have played up to this point. We worked as a team and put together four solid quarters. I am so proud of these girls for their efforts tonight against a good Gibault team."
Carlyle 55, Chester 45
The Carlyle Indians came to Chester Grade School Gymnasium Thursday, Dec 2, to face the Lady Jackets in their second Cahokia Conference game of the season. Colbert Gym at CHS was being utilized by CGS for the 2021 Junior High Christmas Concert, so the game had to be moved.
The first quarter proved to be backbreaking for the Jackets as Carlyle jumped out to a 20-7 first-quarter beating. The second quarter proved to be a reversal as Chester outscored Carlyle, 16-6. The score at halftime was very competitive with the Indians enjoying a slim 3-point lead, 26-23.
The third period flip-flopped once again as the Lady Indians outscored CHS 14-8, and Chester's deficit increased to 9 points, 40-31. To close out the game, it was a neck-and-neck battle with the Indians outscoring the Lady Jackets by only 1 point, 15-14, but it was too late for yet another exchange of point totals with Chester falling to Carlyle, 55-45.
In the loss the Jackets were led by two players in double figures. Seymour had her third double-double of the week with 17 points and 12 boards. Howie scored 12 points and dished out 4 assists. Other key contributors were Kailyn Absher with 7 points and 4 rebounds. Merideth scored 4 points and recorded 3 assists. Maleia Absher (3), and Conley (2), rounded out the Chester offense.
A difference-maker in the outcome of the game may have been the fact that Chester did not hit even one 3-pointer for the night. CHS made 18 traditional field goals for 36 points. At the line CHS made 9-of-15 free throws (60%).
Carlyle likewise had two players in double figures as Hoffman recorded 20 points and Harris added 14. E. Meyer (8), Schmeink (7), Wademan (3), Persing (2), and Relfingsmeyer (1) rounded out the Lady Indian scoring.
Coach Cowan said: "We played really hard tonight against an undefeated Carlyle team. We kept self-destructing and got down by 13 points early. After that, we went on a huge run to get within 3 points at halftime.
"We played right with them and every time it seemed like we were going to take control, we would turn the ball over. We weren't finding the open girl late in the game and started forcing shots.
"I truly believe that this team is buying-in to what we want to do and they are starting to get their legs and play well together. I have complete confidence in this team and I really believe it is all starting to come together. We knew it would take time, and I'm telling you I am starting to see really good things!"
Chester 63, Cobden 17
The Lady Jackets finished out a very tiring and challenging four games in five days with a victory to close out Week 2. The Lady Jackets defeated the Cobden Lady Appleknockers 63-17 to improve to 3-4 overall with this nonconference game.
CHS buzzed out of the hive with a convincing first-quarter performance. The Jackets led 12-2 with 2:01 to play in the first. During that run Seymour kicked things off with a basket just seconds after tipoff. Howie popped a field goal and turned it into a three-point play with a free throw. Conley capped off that opening run with a trey and the Jackets led, 12-2. Seymour added two free throws and Conley connected for a field goal with just 15 seconds left in the first quarter to take a 16-4 first quarter lead.
Chester had a 15-4 second quarter to lead 31-8 at halftime. Senior Kailyn Absher came alive, making three consecutive layups to extend Chester's lead to 23-6 with 1:48 to play in the first half. To close out the half, Colvis made back-to-back free throws, and Howie and Merideth each hit field goals to extend the Chester lead to 31-8 at halftime.
After halftime Seymour and Howie went crazy and scored 16 points together. Seymour started the third quarter with back-to-back inside shots just a little more than a minute into the period.
Howie hit a bucket and the Cobden head coach was called for a technical foul for disputing a call. Howie made both of the free throws connected with the technical foul, and Chester led 39-8 at the 5:50 mark.
Cobden's Abby Remsey hit a 3-pointer to stop the Appleknockers bleeding, but Howie and Kailyn Absher answered with back-to-back buckets to extend the Jacket lead to 45-11 with 4:02 to play in the third.
To close out the third quarter, Chester's bench came alive and Diskey added 4 points, and Colvis made a shot to compliment another 4 points from Howie. The Lady Jackets led 55-15 heading into the final period.
The fourth quarter was played with a continuous clock, but the Chester bench added another 8 points on baskets by Colvis (4), Merideth (2) and Diskey (2). The Jackets defense held Cobden to 2 points.
In the win, Howie led the team with 20 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Seymour completed a four-game stretch in which she achieved double-doubles. Seymour scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win.
Kailyn Absher and Colvis scored 8 points apiece and Merideth added 6 points and 3 steals. Rounding out the Lady Jacket effort were Diskey (6) and Conley (5).
"We played really hard and well tonight. I thought we kind of got off to a sluggish start, but we really quickly woke up and got the job done," Cowan said after the win.
"I am happy with where we are right now, I really am. This team is really starting to work well together and it is starting to show.
"I am happy we went 2-2 on the four-game home stand and now we go on the road until January. We really appreciate all of the support we have had the past four games. It has really been a great atmosphere that both I and the girls have appreciated."
The Lady Jackets now go on the road for two games in Week 3 at Sparta Monday, Dec. 6, and Okawville Thursday, Dec. 9. In Week 4 Chester will play December 13-18 at the Gibault Candy Cane Classic Tournament in Waterloo.