Bobcats compete in Courtney’s swan song
There was reason to believe the Basehor-Linwood boys basketball team could pull off an upset against Piper in the first round of the playoffs on Tuesday.
The Bobcats had won just two games in the regular season but had come together late in the year, beating a solid Holton squad and nearly beating De Soto on the road last Friday.
Lately, the Bobcats had sent a message that they weren't the same team that had struggled to compete in the first half of the season.
Unfortunately for Basehor, Piper got that message before Tuesday's game.
"We heard they had started playing a lot better in the last three weeks," Piper coach David Hall said. "We weren't looking at Basehor as a light game, we were looking at it like we'd have to be ready to take care of business."
Piper junior Leo Criswell came out ready to do just that. Despite Basehor's best efforts, the 6-foot-9 Criswell dominated the game, scoring 31 points to lead all scorers and fuel a 65-44 Piper victory that ended the Bobcats' season.
Though the Bobcats couldn't overcome Criswell's performance, the game was a far cry from the 81-36 beating they took from the Pirates back in January. In this game the Bobcats took some punches, but delivered some of their own and stayed within striking distance like they had in all their recent games.
"I think we really came together as a team and started playing together," senior Garyn Gorup said of the past few weeks.
The Pirates started the game on an 8-0 run that had their home crowd rocking the school's cramped gym. It looked as though they might run away with the game right then, but Basehor responded. Mike Armstrong, John Shumaker and Joel Vandervelde hit three straight baskets to put the Bobcats right back in the game at 8-6. But that was as close as they would get the rest of the way.
Criswell scored 14 points in a 23-5 run that extended the lead to 20. His stat sheet at the end of the game would include two three-pointers and a thunderous alley-oop dunk. Basehor coach Bruce Courtney tried several strong defenders on Criswell, but all had limited success.
"What can you say, he's the kind of guy everyone wants on their roster," Courtney said. "He's got a lot of weapons both inside and out."
Matt Marshall was able to frustrate Criswell at times, drawing a charge on him and grabbing a team-high eight rebounds.
The Bobcats trailed 42-20 at halftime, but turned things around in the second half, actually outscoring the Pirates by a point.
Gorup led the second half charge in his last game as a Bobcat. He ended the game with 14 points, despite never getting to the free-throw line, and added 7 rebounds and 4 blocks.
"Garyn's come on real strong just by sheer determination to get better, play harder and make things happen," Courtney said. "But that goes for all of them. It would have been easy to roll over and quit, but some of the best basketball they played was here at the end of the season."
Gorup said that performing well in his last game provided some consolation, but that it was still difficult to see his high school career come to a close.
"It helps a little, but it doesn't change anything," Gorup said. "This is still gone, and I can't go back to this."