Early going rough for BLHS hoops squads
Five games into the boys basketball season things aren't going quite as coach Bruce Courtney and his players had hoped. The Bobcats have shown flashes of great play on both offense and defense, but they have yet to put both together for 32 minutes and earn a victory.
The team held league powerhouse Mill Valley to 55 points by employing a swarming 2-3 zone defense, but could score only 35 points themselves in that game.
In their last game the Bobcats shot 47 percent and scored 58 against Lansing, led by an unexpected 6 for 8 performance by reserve Matt Marshall. But Brian Kern bombed the Bobcats from the outside and scored 27 points to lead Lansing's 79-point effort.
Still, despite the losses, the Bobcats have shown no sign of quitting, instead pushing each other to keep striving, no matter the score,
"I'm sure they're frustrated, but they're all just quality young men," Courtney said. "They've handled the outside pressure to do well extremely well and they've really supported each other."
The balance and depth that Courtney talked about early in the year have been evident, even if they haven't translated into victories. Adam Smith leads the team with 7.4 points per game, but fellow starter John Shumaker averages 6.8 and junior Seth Lashbrook has come off the bench to score 6.8 points per game himself, most of those coming from beyond the three-point line.
Defensively, Shumaker and Garyn Gorup have been the team's catalysts. Lightning-quick and a powerful leaper, Shumaker averages 3.2 steals per game and the 5-foot-11 guard made one of the most athletic plays of the season when he blocked a layup attempt by Clay Center's 6-foot-4 center, Lance Mall.
The Bobcats are still searching for that elusive first victory, and Courtney said the mental aspect of that search could be the biggest obstacle to success.
"We haven't had the opportunity to learn to win, to see how it feels and to learn to finish a game," Courtney said.
Courtney said that if the losing streak went on much longer it would be tempting for the Bobcats to fall into a mentality in which they expect to lose and would let down if they fell behind. But he said he didn't think that would happen because his players were mentally strong and committed to work hard.
"One of these days we'll get it turned around and that will help tremendously just to get that confidence," he said.
On the girls side of the ball Basehor girls basketball coach Mardy Robinson had a definite plan for this season. With her team a bit undersized, Robinson decided to shun any slow-paced half-court offense and ratchet up the tempo. The plan was to get senior point guard Alex Jeannin out in the open floor where she could use her playmaking skills to create easy baskets.
That plan suffered a harsh setback on Dec. 9, during the Lady 'Cats' second game. After fighting for a loose ball, Jeannin went to the floor and didn't get up.
"Please don't let it be her knee, that was pretty much my first reaction," Robinson said, referring to Jeannin's surgically repaired right knee. "And it wasn't, it was the other one."
Robinson is hoping the Bobcats can rekindle the fire they showed in a fourth quarter comeback attempt against Tonganoxie.
The team scored a season-high 39 points in that game, led by 13 from Morgan Kenney.
That kind of performance after the break, with Jeannin chipping in, could be exactly what BLHS needs to get its first victory. But don't expect a chase for "moral victories" or talk of "rebuilding." "I hate losing," Robinson said.