New-look Bobcats cap week with back-to-back wins
A roller coaster ride of a weekend for the Basehor-Linwood boy's basketball team ended Saturday with a 60-49 thrashing of Bellevue, Neb.
The Bobcats then turned that success into a two-game winning streak with their 61-50 victory over Lansing on Tuesday night.
Tanner Swafford, with 26 points, led all scorers on Tuesday night, and the win moved the Bobcats to 2-2 on the season, as they prepare for Friday's clash will Mill Valley.
However, before racking up back-to-back wins, the Bobcats tipped off their season last Thursday against Olathe East at the Emporia Tournament.
Basehor-Linwood jumped out of the gate quickly and led 27-23 at halftime. They were done in by their depth in the second half, wearing down during a frenetic final three minutes that saw six lead changes. Austin Knipp's jumper went astray at the buzzer, and the boys lost a heartbreaker, 58-57.
Swafford and Knipp took over on offense, finishing with 22 and 21 points, respectively. Coach Mike McBride noted that each was forced to play around 30 minutes in the contest, a workload he is uncomfortable issuing.
"Tanner and Austin played more minutes on the first night, which isn't what we want to do," McBride said. "Our big issue in a sense was that we had a couple subs that came in scared in the first game."
The cancellation of the team's regularly scheduled season-opener on Dec. 1 reeked havoc upon the rotation.
"Our bench play will be pretty good the rest of the year," McBride said. "When we didn't play on (Dec. 1), we didn't know what to work on (in practice)."
Basehor-Linwood was unprepared for the press in Friday's game against Junction City. The Bluejays rode their defense to a 57-45 victory.
Basehor-Linwood led after the first quarter, 13-12, but went downhill from there.
"It was frustrating," McBride said. "We came here because we wanted to see different kinds of basketball. We were intimidated. They were strong and athletic. We learned a lot in that game."
Knipp finished with 15, tops amongst Bobcats.
The two losses put Basehor-Linwood in the middle of a tournament controversy. The final games were seeded based on win-loss record and point differential. The Bobcats were slotted into the sixth seed, ready to play in the fifth place game. They were supposed to be paired in a rematch with fifth seed Olathe East, which finished with the lowest point differential among 1-1 teams.
The Hawks protested having to play the Bobcats for the second time in three days, which irked McBride. After narrowly escaping Basehor-Linwood in the opener, some wondered if they were dodging a repeat date with a school two levels beneath them and primed for another shot at an upset. The schedule was amended to appease Olathe East, after Bellevue, Neb., agreed to forfeit its No. 3 seed and play in the fifth-place game.
Bellevue, a 6A team from Nebraska that boasts a 1,500-student enrollment, entered the game as the heavy favorites. They played that way early, taking an 11-point lead in the second quarter.
"We just didn't shoot the ball well in the first half," McBride said.
The Bobcats emerged for the second half a new team, and they led by a point going into the final quarter.
The team's offense promptly caught fire, and left Bellevue in its wake, shooting 8-for-9 from the field in the last frame. The Bobcats also converted at the free throw line when it counted, knocking down 8-of-10 freebies in the fourth. McBride characterized it as "by far the best quarter," that he has seen as the coach of the team.
"We showed up to play and came to win," he said. "We made free throws when we had to and we made baskets. We played together very well.We were just in a flow."
The victory had the coach looking forward to a bright season.
"It was a fun weekend," McBride said. "It was fun to watch. The kids know they have the tools to win. Who knows what we can do by the end of the year."