Tonganoxie — Though Christmas is not until next week, Tonganoxie High senior Ali Pistora considered her basketball team's 52-30 victory Friday against Bonner Springs an early present.
Pistora and fellow senior Heather Deaver teamed to score 31 points, snapping the Chieftains' two-game skid and helping the team improve its record to 3-2 heading into the holiday break.
"Everybody was looking for their shot, and we were trying to work more as a team tonight," Pistora said. "That was our goal, and I think we accomplished it."
Pistora also attributed the team's success to a boost in morale at recent practices.
Tongie jumped to an early 13-3 advantage, and after the first quarter Bonner Springs never got closer than nine.
Pistora scored 13 of her game-high 17 points before the half, and the Braves had no defensive answers, mainly because of size mismatches. Pistora and Deaver, Tongie's two tallest players, worked the perimeter and post to perfection.
Double-teams on Pistora, a point guard, opened up opportunities for the 6-foot-2 Deaver to score her surprising 14 points off the bench.
Making the victory sweeter was that it lifted the Chieftains' spirits coming off of a loss to rival De Soto.
Bonner Springs 57, Tonganoxie boys 45
When the girls team left the floor, so did all Tonganoxie consistency on offense. It was not necessarily that a depth-deprived Bonner Springs squad was that good, it was just a horrendous drought that plagued the Chieftains.
Tonganoxie senior Daniel Workman scored a layup at the 4:23 mark in the second quarter, pulling the Chieftains to 27-18.
Senior center Michael Morris scored the next 18 points for the Chieftains, but none of his teammates could help him until senior Robert Kirch nailed a jumper with three minutes left in the game.
"We just got away from what we want to run," Tongie coach David Walker said.
Morris had his best night of the season, scoring a game-high 24 points and hauling in a slew of offensive rebounds, but without much help the Chieftains did not have much of a chance.
The hardest part to swallow for Tongie was that Bonner Springs provided opportunities for a comeback, missing seven free throws in the fourth quarter.
Unlike the girls team, the boys will spend the break searching for rhythm to rebound from Friday's game.
"You always like to go into break with a win, but it's too early in the season to get discouraged," Walker said. "Again, it's a process, and the goal is to be better at the end of the season than we are now. This is just another measuring stick to work on."