Bobcats break through
9-point win first of the season for BLHS
Getting the first victory of the season has been like climbing a mountain for the Basehor-Linwood boys basketball team. On Tuesday the Bobcats finally reached the summit.
Basehor went into Tonganoxie and played the Chieftains tough all game. When the horn sounded, the team rejoiced in a 58-49 victory, avenging a home defeat to Tonganoxie earlier in the year.
The game started with the Chieftains jumping out to an 8-2 lead fueled by post scoring and a smooth jumpshot from Shane Howard. They then tried out a fullcourt press, something that had given Basehor trouble all year.
But on Tuesday the Bobcats used the press to their advantage, beating it with solid passes that led to breakaways and open shots. John Shumaker hit a layup and a jumper, and Mike Armstrong made a three off an inbounds from Robby Patterson. Brett Dowdall hit Garyn Gorup streaking to the bucket for a layup, and Basehor led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter.
"We didn't do anything differently, we ran the same press break," coach Bruce Courtney said. "We just finally took care of the ball, made good passes and didn't try to take more than what was given us."
Armstrong said that the main difference in beating the press was the mental approach.
"I always like to push the ball, but Coach has been telling us to slow down and we did that today and that helped us make good passes," Armstrong said.
Armstrong led Basehor with five assists and got plenty of help distributing the ball. Eight of the 10 Bobcats who played recorded at least one assist.
Basehor's offensive rhythm continued to flow into the second quarter as the team jumped out to a 20-14 lead. At that point they hit a rough spot.
Tonganoxie began to figure out Basehor's 2-3 zone defense and went on a quick 10-0 run to take the lead and all the momentum. Basehor had found it difficult to recover from stretches of poor play all year, but the Bobcats were determined not to let this game slip away.
Gorup and Armstrong led a fiery response to close out the first half. First, Gorup scored a layup off a pass from Armstrong. On the next trip down he fed the ball back out to Armstrong who hit a three from the corner and was fouled, converting the free throw for a rare four-point play. Gorup made another layup off a nice interior pass from Joel Vandervelde to close out the 8-0 Basehor run and give the Bobcats a 28-24 lead at halftime.
"We've been practicing making a better passing angle by dribbling around if it's not there at first," Gorup said. "The guards were doing that all night long and it made things so much easier for us inside."
Courtney said the spurt that took back the lead before halftime was key to Basehor winning the game.
"It was extremely important," Courtney said. "When we were teetering on that fence, it was a tremendous boost for us to rebound after that little waver. Once things go right it's fuel that feeds that fire."
The two teams played an almost even third quarter, although Courtney had to go to his bench often as fouls mounted up against the Bobcats. After three quarters Basehor had been called for 22 fouls, compared to just seven for Tonganoxie. Shumaker, Gorup, Smith and Nick Box all had to play out the game with four fouls, with Gorup fouling out just before the end.
The game's outcome would have been different if the Chieftains had taken advantage of a huge edge in free throw attempts. But, while Tonganoxie missed time after time from the line (including two air balls), the Bobcats made their trips count, hitting 10 of 12.
Still, the Chieftains refused to lie down and die in the fourth quarter. Howard led Tonganoxie with 13 points in the game and his three-pointer tied it at 47 with four minutes left.
But with victory finally in sight, the Bobcats couldn't be broken. Adam Smith scored four points and Gorup, Dowdall and Patterson combined to seal the victory with five big free throws down the stretch. Basehor won the game going away, with a 12-2 run in the final minutes.
Gorup led the way with 12 points and four blocks.
Smith had 10 points and four rebounds, and Armstrong was next with nine points, continuing his streak of good outside shooting. Box had eight points and Shumaker had six points and three steals.
"It feels really good, especially because I feel like Tonganoxie's a good team," Gorup said. "But I'm all about the next game, I'm already getting psyched up."
Basehor will take on Mill Valley at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6.