Bobcats string back-to-back wins together
After losing four straight games, it wouldn't have been a surprise if the Bobcats just packed it in and accepted their fate.
After all, it's what this program has done for a long time.
But this isn't the same basketball team that played last season, it isn't even the same team that took the floor at the beginning of this season. And after winning two in a row, including their best game of the season, a 59-53 win over Lansing last Friday night, the Bobcats are taking giant steps forward.
Lansing was a team the Bobcats had already lost to early in the season, but after showing great improvement in their win over Pembroke Hill, another team they had already lost to, the Bobcats surprised the Lions and doubled their win output from last season with four.
"We played a lot better this time around," BLHS coach Mike McBride said. "We really slowed things down and played like a team."
Holding the edge from the first game, on their home court, Lansing wasn't going to give anything away for free, and the Bobcats had to earn every bucket. For the second night in a row senior Joel VanderVelde, who only had seven points in the first half, found himself on the bench with two quick fouls.
With their leading scorer on the bench, the Bobcats were forced to rely on their outside shooting, something McBride doesn't like to do. But the Bobcats had been working on better floor spacing, looking for better shots, hoping it would translate into more scoring.
"We have really been trying to slow the game down and get good shots," McBride said. "We struggle when we try and rush."
Senior Seth Lashbrook has been one of the players struggling, at times, to find his outside shot. But on this night, he found nothing but the bottom of the net. And with VanderVelde out of the game Lashbrook took over.
He finished with a season-high 21 points, including three timely bombs from behind the arc, and 11 points in the first half.
"He's (Lashbrook) gotta have his feet set when he shoots," McBride said. "He slowed down and let the game come to him."
Lashbrook said the offensive outburst was just what the doctor ordered.
"It felt really good to step up and play the game I wanted to play," he said.
Lashbrook's heroics were not enough to give the Bobcats a first-half lead, and they went into the locker room down by three, 29-26.
A 16-4 run in the second half of their first meeting was what took away any chance for the Bobcats to win two months ago, but the new and improved Bobcats weren't about to let that happen twice.
It was Lashbrook again that would have the answer, as he tied the game with a three-pointer to start the second half and then backed it up with another after Lansing went on a small run.
The hot hand from Lashbrook opened up the middle of the floor, and when VanderVelde went back into the game, he decided it was his turn.
The Bobcats finished the third quarter with a 12-3 run, six of which came from VanderVelde, who had 13 in the second half and 20 for the game. The Bobcats took a five point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter seemed to take as long as the entire game, but with 2:40 to go Lansing had clawed its way back into the game and tied it at 50.
"We really stayed disciplined, and stuck to the plan," McBride said of his team, which hadn't won back-to-back games yet this season.
The theme on the night for the Bobcats, as it is most times a team plays someone for the second time, would be to improve upon mistakes from the first game.
The Bobcats shot a better field goal percentage, played better defense, and when they went 4-16 from the free throw line in the first game, they only had room for improvement. It was free throws that helped seal the deal for the Bobcats this time around.
Frustrated from their own offensive woes, Lansing sent the Bobcats to the line, hoping for a repeat of last game.
But history didn't repeat itself and the Bobcats hit seven free throws in the last two minutes of the game to ensure the win.