Rundus scores big on senior night
It might have been better called Dan Rundus Night.
Instead, it was called senior night at Basehor-Linwood High School, but the big 6-foot-9 fan favorite, who had logged only two minutes of varsity basketball time in his life, stole the show.
In a traditional senior night move, BLHS coach Bruce Courtney started all five of his seniors. Rundus was included in that group and as he ran out to center court as his name was announced during introductions, his smile shined from ear to ear.
"That was one of the greatest moments of my life," an overwhelmed and exhausted Rundus said after the game.
A few of his other great moments came later.
After playing two minutes in the first quarter Rundus exited to a rousing ovation. During the next couple of quarters, Rundus played a minute or two in each. But in the fourth quarter, with the game well in hand, Rundus took center stage.
At the five minute mark of the final quarter, the fans began to chant his name. "Run-Dus, Run-Dus" they chanted. That was immediately followed by "Dan-Ny, Dan-Ny" and it was all Courtney and the rest of the bench could do to contain their laughter.
"Obviously he's a crowd favorite around here," Courtney said. "And part of me not putting him in right away there in the fourth was so he could experience those chants. You just wanted the whole night to work out right and I really think it did."
At the 4:36 mark, Rundus stripped off his shooting shirt and checked into the game.
"That was excellent," Rundus said of the chants. "I was crying on the bench when they were chanting my name. Words can't describe how happy I was. I can't believe how much support I've had."
An accomplished high school debater, Rundus said it was a big deal for him to be at a loss for words. But the emotion and adrenaline that consumed him for the final four minutes of the game left him nearly speechless.
When Rundus checked in, the Bobcats led 78-47. From there, the objective was clear get Rundus the ball and let him score his first career points.
Less than 15 seconds after checking in Rundus was fouled and sent to the free throw line. The silence was deafening. The first shot clanged off the back of the rim, as did the second. Clearly the adrenaline was flowing. And after each miss, the crowd collectively oohed and ahhed.
Three minutes, five rebounds, two missed field goals and two blocked shots later Rundus was back at the free throw line. The silence was back as well. This time, however, the first shot missed short and the second one rimmed out.
It was starting to look more and more as if Rundus was going to wind up scoreless.
"Either way, if I scored or if I didn't, this was going to be the perfect ending to a senior night for me," Rundus said.
With time winding down, the Bobcats passed the ball to Rundus one final time. On the far baseline he gathered himself and went up for a shot. His teammates and his fans were sure he was fouled. The referee wasn't, and Rundus' final shot attempt missed long.
After hustling back down court, Rundus got himself in position to grab one final rebound. A De Soto player pulled up for a jump shot with eight seconds remaining. It missed and Rundus reached high above the crowd to grab his sixth rebound of the night. In the mad scramble for the ball, Rundus was also fouled for the third time of the night. With 3.5 seconds left in the game, he was headed back to the free throw line for one last chance.
This time the gym was even quieter than before. Rundus set, just as he had done the four previous times, and fired a shot toward the rim. After dancing around the iron, the ball fell through the net and the gymnasium exploded. The refs even stopped the game momentarily to allow his teammates on the floor to congratulate him.
With no hesitation, Rundus launched his second free throw at the basket swish. Rundus' final line: two points, six rebounds, two blocked shots, one steal, one turnover and a lifetime of memories.
"That was worth all 18 years of my life," Rundus said. "That was just unbelievable."
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