After a tough loss to rival Nixa on Tuesday night, the Kickapoo Chiefs went looking for their identity again on Friday.
They found it, quickly, dismantling the crosstown Hillcrest Hornets 81-39 at Kickapoo High School.
“This team, we’ve got high expectations for ourselves and there’s not one of us that was remotely close to being satisfied with our effort the other night,” Kickapoo coach Dick Rippee said, referencing Tuesday’s 59-56 loss to now Class 5 No. 6 Nixa. “Nixa had everything to do with that. We just felt like we weren’t us and we needed to be us.
“So we just tried to get our identity back, so to speak.”
It didn’t take very long against the very young Hornets.
Kickapoo, No. 7 in Class 5, forced six turnovers and made five three-pointers — all from different players — en route to building a 21-11 lead in the first quarter.
“We are a work in a progress,” Hillcrest coach Tomas Brock said. “We needed to be about three years older. We struggled with their pressure, there’s no doubt about that.
“When you are as long and as athletic and quick and smart as they are, you can give a lot of teams trouble.”
A quick 14-4 run to open the second quarter by the Chiefs (15-2) pretty much put things away early. Kyle Campbell’s 3-pointer in the final minute of the half gave Kickapoo a 49-27 halftime advantage.
It was a frustrating half for the Hornets to say the least. Senior guard Brady Petry scored 22 of the team’s 27 points in the first two quarters as Hillcrest struggled on both ends of the floor.
Hillcrest starts a pair of freshmen and a sophomore and the senior-laden Chiefs had their way with the youngsters.
“We didn’t do as well as we’d like valuing the basketball, especially in that first half,” Brock said. “They kind of got us in their game a little bit and we played quicker than we would have liked to.”
Kickapoo even hit another gear in the third quarter. The Chiefs limited Petry to just six second-half points and opened the period on a 17-2 run. The Chiefs made 13 3-pointers in the game, three in that third quarter stretch.
Tyson Batiste scored a team-high 21 to lead a dozen Kickapoo players in scoring. Jack Simpson added 13 points and Matt Ridder and Campbell each added 10 for the Chiefs.
Kickapoo used the loss to Nixa both as motivation and as a reminder to get back to business, Batiste said.
“I think it was a mix of both,” Batiste said. “We were all upset about the loss…we just knew we had to come back better prepared and play like we were capable of tonight.
“It was definitely a humbling experience (losing), but it kind of got us to get hungry again and ready to work.”
Hillcrest will travel to Webb City on Tuesday night, but for the Chiefs, it’s a much-needed rest before hosting Parkview next Friday night.
“This time of the year, it gets to be a little bit long,” Rippee said. “We just played or practiced 12 of the last 13 days, so we are looking forward to a weekend off.
“We’ve been a little bit tired and I thought we played that way Tuesday night, if not physically then certainly mentally.”