Bobcats boast talented group of freshman girls
When Noah Simpson, Basehor-Linwood High School girls freshman basketball coach, found out he was going to be without the four best freshman basketball players this season because they had moved to varsity, he just smiled and went to work with what he was given.
What he was given was a team that would prove it could win even without Michelle Chrisman, Brooke Sanders, Cassie Lombardino and Ashley Jeannin.
The team would not only lay-up the doubts of any skeptics but slam-dunked any uncertainty of their talent with a 7-0 start this season.
"This entire class of girls is very talented and very competitive," varsity girls head coach Mardy Robinson said. "By competing with each other, they're making each other better."
A huge part of this team's success has been the strength of its bench. Out of 11 players, Simpson isn't afraid to put anyone into the game during a tight situation.
"I'm really proud of all of them; each girl really contributes a lot to this team," Simpson said of a team whose starting five is never a guarantee.
As if a 7-0 record wasn't enough, these girls aren't just winning; they're winning big.
The first game of the season would set the tone for the rest of it, a game in which the team would score 88 points. They would continue on this path, running over opponents, including 6A Leavenworth, who they played in the first round of the Patton Junior High tournament, which they won.
But it's not just the high numbers they're putting on the score board, it's the numbers they're keeping off of it that has helped them mop the floor with their opponents. The freshman Lady Bobcats haven't given up more than 40 points this season while managing to win every game but one by at least 20 points.
"We start off in a full court press and play extremely aggressive defense," said Simpson, who often has to call off the dogs.
With all the talent that this team has, it's hard to pick out just one player that stands above the rest, but the play of leading scorer Shannon Carlin shouldn't be overlooked. Leading by more than just her scoring, it's her tenacity that Simpson feels is her best quality.
"Shannon can really inspire this team with her aggressive defense and her hustle," Simpson said, mentioning that those are the two qualities he wants his players to demonstrate most. "With those two things, you can really stir up a lot of teams and win some ball games."
But how will this team react to losing a game? Although it isn't something any coach plans on doing, Simpson feels that how his team will react to a loss may prove to be the biggest challenge of the season. But the challenge is something he feels will fall squarely on his shoulders.
"These girls can play; I know that," he said. "The tough part is going to be, how do I as a coach get them to respond."
It's not something he's had to deal with yet with this team, but as long as they continue to improve, he might not have anything to worry about.
"They've shown a steady incline; each game we continue to get better," Simpson said.
Even with the undefeated season, freshman players can always make improvements, something this team just continues to do.
Case in point, Chelsea Patton has gone 6-12 and then 9-10 from the line, after starting the season a dismal 2-20. Maggie Schroeder and Carlin both fouled out of the first two games due to reaching fouls, and now they lead the team in steals.
"This is an extremely hard-working bunch of freshman," Simpson said. "They all stay mentally focused and really strive to do their best."
Whether it's the four playing varsity or the 11 that still play on the freshman team, this class has a lot of potential.
"With the sophomore class that we have right now, and the eighth grade class we have coming in next year, I'm really excited about the future," Robinson said with a smile. "As long as they continue to improve, there's no telling what they're capable of."
"We fully expect to be competing for a state championship by the time these girls are juniors."
Their junior year is still three years away, but the freshmen Lady Bobcats look to continue their unbeaten streak at home against rival Bonner Springs on Friday Jan. 14.