Lady ‘Cats advance at sub-state
Thanks to a thrilling third-quarter stretch, the Basehor-Linwood girls basketball team advanced in the sub-state tournament on Monday, Feb. 25, with a 54-49 victory over No. 5 seed Piper.
The Lady 'Cats nailed three straight three-pointers (two from senior Emily Hoffman and another from sophomore Alex Jeannin) in the third quarter, and got a three-point play from Tara Lucas immediately after the long-range bombs to turn a 25-23 deficit into a 35-25 lead with 4:46 remaining in the third quarter.
When senior Lesley Hancock drained a 12-footer less than a minute later, the Bobcats' lead had ballooned to 12, 37-25.
"Piper was kind of focusing on stopping our inside game on offense, so we knew we needed to step up and knock down some outside shots to make them pay," Hoffman said.
It would probably be safe to say that the third-quarter onslaught actually began at the end of the first half when Hoffman corralled a rebound and drilled a turnaround jumper as time expired to give the Bobcats a 23-21 halftime lead.
"Emily's shot at the end of the half was a big lift," BLHS coach Mardy Robinson said. "It really gave us momentum heading into the second half and that third quarter was just huge that's all you can say."
Despite owning a double-digit lead for most of the quarter, Piper shaved the Lady 'Cats' lead to seven by the start of the fourth quarter. From there it was up to the Bobcats to win the game from the free throw line.
Piper's Jill Waltsak cut the lead to 42-40 with 3:25 remaining, but the Hoffman and Jeannin maintained the lead for the Bobcats from the free throw line. Down the stretch, Hoffman was two for two from the free throw line and Jeannin was six for 10.
"I'd love to send Emily or Alex or Lesley Hancock to the free throw line with the game on the line, because I know they're going to knock the shots down," Robinson said.
What she didn't know was that junior Aubrey Bittel would also knock down a pair of huge free throws late in the game.
Bittel's two free throws came after Piper attempted a three-pointer for the lead on the other end. Piper's Ashley Boczak pulled a three-pointer that rattled off the backboard and around the rim before finally missing. In the ensuing scramble for the ball, Piper snagged two rebounds and had two point-blank attempts to tie the game that missed. Bittel then ripped the loose ball out of the air and was tackled, sending her to the line.
"We haven't won a sub-state game in I don't know how many years," Robinson said. "And our goal was to come out with intensity and get it done. We had a great crowd behind us tonight and that really helped a lot."
The fourth-seeded Bobcats will now face top-seeded Spring Hill in the sub-state semifinals at Mill Valley on Thursday, Feb. 28.
At 19-1, Spring Hill is ranked No. 1 in the state and proves to be an enormous task for the Bobcats to take on. Despite the chips being stacked against her, Robinson said her team is capable of pulling off the upset.
"We're the underdog and they might be looking past us," Robinson said. "They've got probably the best player in the metro area, in Jessica Hocker, and it's going to be an extremely tough game for us."
Gametime is scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight. The contest will be played at Mill Valley High School.