ALTAMONT — It doesn’t matter how ugly it is for the Labette County Grizzlies as they beat the Chanute Blue Comets 35-33 on Thursday night in a make-up SEK League game postponed due to the pandemic prior to winter break.
“The difference in the game tonight was that when we needed to make plays, we did,” Labette County head coach Bradley Argabright said. “I can’t say that about a couple of games this year. But tonight, we didn’t get in a hole. We were even keeled down the stretch.”
On a night were offense came at a high premium, ball security was Chanute’s undoing. The Blue Comets were responsible for 17 turnovers in the loss.
“The turnovers were an issue for us,” Chanute head coach Devon Crabtree said. “It’s hard to win when you have that many. And we didn’t knock our free throws down. We didn’t get a lot of opportunities at the free throw line, but when you get there you have to execute.”
Argabright cited his team’s effort on defense in sealing the win — the Grizzlies took two charges in the final minute of the game with the Blue Comets down by a lone possession.
“Our effort on the defensive end was key all night,” Argabright said. “Those charges were really big. We’ve been preaching for three months to our kids to take more charges. Those were gutsy plays. And we want the refs to make that call and be confident in ourselves on defense.”
Eli Hestand led Labette County with 11 points on the night.
“His on-ball pressure is what we’re proud of out of him tonight,” Argabright said. “We always preach you can’t have a bad day on defense no matter how you’re shooting. He’s in a bit of a slump, so he’s trying to find different ways to score. But we want him to keep shooting.”
Garrett Almond paced Chanute with 14 points.
“He did a great job finishing around the rim,” Crabtree said. “He kept attacking. Unfortunately he had some charges called on him late. But that’s what we want him doing.”
The Grizzlies have shown an affinity for a slow style of play, a style that has stymied the Blue Comets.
“Labette County likes to slow it down,” Crabtree said. “Since I’ve been here, we struggle against teams that like to slow it down. I’m still learning and our guys are still learning how to mesh it all together and figure it out.”
“It’s working because we’re working our tails off on defense,” Argabright added. “If you haven’t noticed, we don’t have any size on the floor. So it’s all about effort and being strong with the ball on our possessions. But we’d love to get in the 40s. If we broke 50, I’d be ecstatic.”
With the loss, Chanute dipped to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in SEK League play. The Blue Comets get 24 hours before their next game at Fort Scott.
“We’re trying to move on quickly,” Crabtree said. “It’s the same gameplan as normal. We want to try and get up and down, execute our stuff, knock down some shots and go get a win.”
As for Labette County, it jumped to 5-8 overall and 3-3 in the league. They’ll head a dozen miles north to face rival Parsons on Friday night.
“We’re going to go up there and give it our best shot,” Argabright said. “We know it’s PK and they’ll be amped up. It’s a rivalry game at the end of the day. I know Coach (Anthony) Houk respects our program just like we respect his. So we’re ready for the challenge.”
Labette County 35, Chanute 33
Labette Co.: 7 9 9 10 — 35
Chanute: 10 8 5 10 — 33
Labette County: Tray Vinson 8, Eli Hestand 11, Chase Carnahan 4, Alex Meister 8, Hudson Baker 2, Trent Brock 2
Chanute: Garrett Almond 14, Kam Koester 8, Robertson 4, Carter Coombs 7