BLHS seniors Garyn Gorup and Alex Jeannin are finally kings of the court
In terms of style, Alex Jeannin and Garyn Gorup couldn't be much more different on the basketball court.
Jeannin is the lithe, quick point guard, able to spin away from defenders and drop no-look passes to open teammates.
Gorup is the 6-foot-5 physical post presence, swatting shots and ripping down rebounds in traffic.
But the two Basehor-Linwood seniors share one thing every time they take the floor for their respective teams: they're both taking on new leadership roles this year as their teams' most experienced varsity players.
Mardy Robinson, Basehor girls basketball coach, built her team's up-tempo offensive scheme around Jeannin's ability to break down opposing defenses in the open floor. It's a lot of responsibility for one player, but Robinson figured that Jeannin, in her fourth year of varsity basketball, could handle it.
"As a four-year starter we depend on her in every aspect," Robinson said. "She has to be the leader."
Though her role on the team expanded greatly this year, Jeannin accepted her new responsibilities willingly because of her team-first attitude.
"It's a challenge for me," Jeannin said. "I've never been asked to score like this year, but I know it's what the team needs and I'm willing to do whatever's best for the team."
Unfortunately, though Jeannin's spirit was willing, her knee wasn't necessarily ready to cooperate. After leading the Lady 'Cats with six assists in the season opener, Jeannin suffered a ruptured ACL in the next game. Basehor's offense has struggled without her, scoring just 22 points in three of the four games since her injury.
Jeannin was only 12 assists from the school record when she went down, and she plans to try to play with a knee brace after the winter break. Even if she has to limit her minutes, Robinson said her presence would be important.
"She's still the leader of this team whether or not she's playing," Robinson said.
Robinson's respect for Jeannin mirrors that of boys coach Bruce Courtney for Gorup. Gorup has been a varsity starter since his sophomore season, Courtney's first as head coach.
"He brings an awful lot," Courtney said of Gorup. "He's a foundation for the rest of the players to look to. He's one of those kids who just naturally gets along with the rest of the team, kind of the glue that keeps everything together."
Unlike Jeannin, Gorup hasn't been asked to shoulder much extra responsibility this year because of the Bobcats' frontcourt depth. Gorup has shared minutes with up-and-coming juniors Nick Box and Joel Vandervelde and has lost time because of foul trouble in a couple games.
But when Gorup has played he's been very solid, especially on the defensive end. The senior had five blocks against Mill Valley and seven against Tonganoxie.
"He's really quickened defensively since he started," Courtney said. "He definitely knows there's more than one end of the court."
Both Gorup and Jeannin said that the biggest change in their games since their first years on varsity was increased confidence.
"I was very timid as a freshman," Jeannin said. "All I did was what everyone told me. Now I've learned to just play, to be myself."
"I'm more aggressive now," Gorup agreed, "but still not as much as I should be. I haven't become a scorer yet."
The Bobcats could use more scoring from Gorup, and fast. The team has dropped to 0-5, and the offense has been inconsistent during the slide. Basehor has made strides recently, especially in matching Lansing nearly point-for-point for three quarters, but there still seems to be a lack of continuity in the offense. Every Bobcat has shown an ability to score in double figures on any given night, and yet not one of them has been able to do it consistently so far.
Likewise, the girls team has struggled to put points on the board in losing its first five games. Every shot the Lady 'Cats take seems to be contested, far from the layup drill Robinson had envisioned with Jeannin leading the charge. How much Jeannin will be able to contribute with her knee injury remains to be seen, but the team could use a spark on the offensive end.
If either BLHS team is able to turn things around this year, the leadership of Jeannin and Gorup will likely have a lot to do with it.