By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
There are few moments in basketball where you can laugh off a missed dunk.
For senior guard Anton Brookshire and the Kickapoo Chiefs, such a moment happened Friday afternoon at Hammons Student Center in the Class 6 Show-Me Showdown semifinals.
With victory secured and the state championship game ahead, the Chiefs started getting breakaway dunks against a desperate Chaminade squad.
Trevon Brazile and Zaide Lowery had impressive throwdowns. Brookshire? Not so much.
For the record: Brookshire would’ve dunked, but…
“(The ball) slipped. It slipped out of my hands,” Brookshire said, with a sheepish grin on his face. “I took the wrong step. Sometimes it happens like that. Big picture, we won.”
Brookshire received some good-natured ribbing from his head coach.
“I told him he couldn’t jump anymore because he was dunking the ball as a freshman and sophomore and I don’t think he’s had a single dunk this year,” said Chiefs coach Mitch McHenry. “We were just giving him a little crap.”
Despite that miscue, the Chiefs were all smiles at the end as they defeated Chaminade 71-53 behind a dominating fourth quarter.
Brookshire led four Chiefs in double figures with 18 points, along with six rebounds and four assists.
Kickapoo will play Liberty for the Class 6 state championship at 6 p.m. Saturday at JQH Arena. The Chiefs will be seeking their first state championship since 2006 and third overall.
“We’re super blessed right now and grateful to have this opportunity,” Brookshire said. “We’ve worked super hard to get to this point.
“We just have to put this win behind us because our main goal is to come away with another victory and win state.”
Kickapoo outscored Chaminade 23-8 in the decisive fourth.
It was an impressive response for the Chiefs after they gave up a ten-point lead in the third quarter. Tarris Reed II’s three-point play at the 2:14 mark of the third gave Chaminade its first and only lead (42-41) of the game.
Kickapoo retook the lead, 48-45, when Brookshire drained a 3 from the left corner to close the third.
“It was a great pass from Isaac (Haney),” Brookshire said. “It showed he has that vision to make the pass and the trust for me to take that shot. I think that helped us carry some momentum over to the fourth quarter.”
Isaac Haney, who had 15 points, started the fourth with a layup and 3-pointer that extended the margin to 53-45 and the Chiefs never looked back.
“I’m proud of how we finished, because we haven’t always finished great this year in games,” McHenry said. “Being able to do what we needed to do in the fourth quarter showed a lot with our guys.”
Kickapoo sealed the win at the free throw line, shooting 20-for-23 overall. Cam Liggins, who scored 14, went 10-for-10 at the free throw line.
Kickapoo got a big boost from sophomore reserve Zaide Lowery, who had 13 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes.
Kickapoo senior Trevon Brazile had nine points, 10 rebounds and some key interior defense. He had the primary defensive assignment on Chaminade’s star, Reed II, who finished with 27 points and seven rebounds on 11-for-19 shooting. Reed II, a junior, has scholarship offers from schools such as Michigan State, Illinois and Florida.
“Trevon’s risen to the challenge all year when it comes to defense,” McHenry said. “He’s pretty special when it comes to defense. He’s able to guard multiple positions. He had a big assignment tonight with Reed. He battled and did a great job making it difficult on Reed.”
Friday’s meeting was the third time that Kickapoo has played Chaminade at state in the last six years. The Red Devils won in the Class 5 championship game in 2016; Kickapoo prevailed in a 2017 3rd place game.
Chaminade shot 21-for-56 from the field overall on Friday, including just 5-for-24 on 3-point attempts.
Kickapoo scored the game’s first nine points and led 29-25 at halftime.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight, which obviously contributed to our slow start,” said Red Devils coach Frank Bennett. “Most of them were good looks, looks that typically fall. They just didn’t tonight.”
Kickapoo 71, Chaminade 53
Kickapoo 16 13 19 23 — 71
Chaminade 9 16 20 8 — 53
Kickapoo (27-2 overall) – Anton Brookshire 18, Isaac Haney 15, Cam Liggins 14, Zade Lowery 13, Trevon Brazile 9, Harrison Doennig 2
Chaminade (21-2 overall) – Tarris Reed II 27, Damien Mayo 10, Nate Straughter 8, Walt Straughter 3, BJ Ward 3, Jotham Daniels 2