Bobcats win final home game
“That made our season”
Last week, the Bobcats became the team they hoped to be all season long. In the seniors' last home game, Basehor earned a stirring 61-52 victory over the Holton Wildcats, who started the season 10-3. The Bobcats used a significant height advantage and an uncharacteristically loud home crowd to gain their second victory of the season, a memorable one for the Basehor seniors.
"We really wanted this win," Brett Dowdall said. "This year hasn't been going our way, but that made our season. Even players that aren't seniors really stepped up like they wanted to win this one for us."
Basehor coach Bruce Courtney played to his height advantage, starting 6-foot-7 senior Matt Marshall for the first time. Marshall was matched up against Holton's Josh Wheeler, who at 6-foot-7 was the Wildcats' only real post threat.
Marshall didn't shy away from the challenge, scoring 7 points and snagging 11 boards.
With Wheeler in foul trouble, the Holton lineup was at a huge disadvantage in the middle, and Courtney took advantage, going to Joel Vandervelde, the 6-foot-6 junior with a soft touch inside. Vandervelde responded, making five straight field goals in the quarter to lead the Bobcats to a 31-30 halftime lead.
"That was the game plan," Courtney said. "We told the big men to attack and be on the offensive. We got into a good situation with their big guy getting in foul trouble early on, and Joel took advantage."
Vandervelde's scoring burst helped Basehor get the lead, but it took a balanced effort in the second half to keep it.
Early in the fourth quarter John Shumaker took a pass from Vandervelde and hit a runner to give Basehor its biggest lead at 44-36. The Wildcats responded, cutting the deficit to 46-43 with just over three minutes left.
But Shumaker responded again, with a spurt that brought the home crowd to its feet and left the Wildcats stunned. After three straight dazzling plays by the senior, the Bobcats led 51-43. Shumaker finished with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
Late in the game a Holton three-pointer cut the lead to 57-51, but on the next play Holton's Damian Brackenbury fouled Dowdall in the backcourt and was whistled for a technical for arguing the call. With the Bobcats in the bonus, Dowdall went to the line for four pressure-packed free throws.
"I'm pretty confident about my free throws," Dowdall said "I'm not bragging or anything, but we shoot them everyday in practice so I just went up there thinking like it was practice."
Dowdall's nailed all four, driving the crowd into an appreciative frenzy all the way until the final buzzer, when the senior guard flung the ball high in the air to celebrate the 61-52 victory.
Dowdall missed only one shot the entire game and finished with 9 points and 2 assists. BLHS got solid contributions from all its seniors, beyond Shumaker, Dowdall and Marshall. Cody Herbster didn't miss from the field or the free throw line and finished with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Garyn Gorup had 7 points, 3 rebounds and a block. Adam Smith had 4 points, 2 rebounds and a block, and Robby Patterson had 2 points, 2 rebounds and a steal.
Courtney had announced that he would resign at the end of the season earlier in the week. His team showed surprising fight and confidence in his final home game, and he diverted all the praise to his players.
"The fact that it was senior night drew most of the attention," Courtney said. "That group of guys has been here a long time through some rough waters. They're very special people, and they deserved all the ovations they got."
Vandervelde's spark was also undeniable, and he said after the game he was just happy to help the seniors get the victory.
"It was a great, a memory they won't forget," Vandervelde said. "I don't like taking their points, but, hey, it happens."
The next day the Bobcats traveled to Bonner Springs and took on the Braves in their fourth game in five days. Their offense was efficient again, but fatigue seemed to take its toll on the defensive end, as the team lost 77-66.