BLHS knocks off Mill Valley
BLHS snags signature win over traditional power
Maybe it was worth the wait. It had been four years since the Basehor-Linwood boy's basketball team last vanquished Mill Valley. On Friday night the Bobcats ended their run of futility with an exclamation point, dominating the Jaguars 49-37.
"Obviously, we are pretty excited," BLHS coach Mike McBride said.
Basehor-Linwood had lost eight straight to Mill Valley since squeaking by the Jaguars 44-43 on December 12, 2002. McBride had been at the helm for four of those setbacks; his teams losing by an average of more than 20 points a game.
"In the last three years, they have beaten us badly," McBride said. "They are a measuring stone. For us, this was a team to beat."
Austin Knipp exploded for 20 points. The senior guard shot 7-12 from the field, including 3-7 on three pointers. He was also a perfect 3-3 from the free throw line.
"This game meant a lot to the team," Knipp said. "It showed us that we have improved."
Knipp was honored before the game at center court for his prowess at another sport. Athletic Director Joe Keeler led a presentation that recognized Knipp's place in Kansas soccer history.
The ball that Knipp used to score his state-record 100th goal was displayed, encased in glass. The ball will be added to the Basehor-Linwood trophy case.
"It meant a lot to me," Knipp said of the ceremony. "All good things must come to an end."
With the game underway, the Bobcats jumped on Mill Valley early. After leading 11-7 after the first quarter, the team took a comfortable 26-17 lead into halftime.
The Bobcats did face some adversity early in the second half. Key offensive cog Tanner Swafford committed his third personal foul of the game with 6:43 left in the third quarter, sending him to the bench. The Basehor-Linwood attack stagnated without him. Mill Valley quickly went on a 6-2 run, cutting the Bobcat lead to 30-23. It was as close as they would get.
Swafford was reinserted, and Basehor-Linwood ended the third quarter on a 9-4 spurt to expand its lead to 39-27 heading into the last quarter. Swafford showed supreme offensive efficiency when in the game, finishing with 13 points on 6-8 shooting.
Knipp said that he felt "no pressure" to spearhead the offense when it experienced drought.
"It doesn't matter if I score. It can take us out of a slump when we get a basket, and we run back and want to play defense."
The Bobcats slowed the pace considerably in the fourth quarter to protect the lead. They also clamped down on defense and caused some key Mill Valley turnovers.
"We played exceptionally well in spurts," McBride said. "We were able to absorb significant punches."
McBride looked at Swafford's foul trouble as a blessing in disguise. He was able to use depth at key junctures in the game.
"Our goal is to go to state," he said. "To do that, we have to have a bench. I have confidence in our bench."
McBride's goal is becoming more realistic-looking by the day. The Bobcats have raced to a 3-2 start against stiff competition.
While the team may be antsy to return to the court after such a big win, they must heed to Winter Break. A three-week absence for the squad will commence with a Jan. 5 home date with Perry.
This wait won't seem as long.