BLHS snags 2nd league win in final game before break
Strong inside-outside game leads Lady Bobcats to victory
On display Friday night in the Basehor-Linwood High School gymnasium was a game of momentum between the Basehor-Linwood girls basketball team and Mill Valley.
Luckily for the Bobcats, they sustained theirs longer.
The teams sparred and traded leads in an uneventful first quarter, with Basehor-Linwood taking a 6-5 edge. In the second quarter the Bobcats seized control of the game, dominating the Jaguars 15-1. Basehor-Linwood was able to take control of the paint, with center Cassie Lombardino scoring 11 first-half points while adding stellar defense and a bevy of blocked shots.
The Bobcats began the second half with a seemingly commanding 21-6 lead. Led by what had been a stout defensive performance, it didn't appear as though the Lady Jaguars would be able to pose a threat.
But Mill Valley began the new half on a mission. The Jags ripped off an 8-0 run to begin the third quarter, slicing the once imposing lead to 21-14. But BLHS point guard Brooke Sanders stopped the bleeding with a jump shot at the four minute mark; her first points of the contest.
The Jaguars capitalized on a new defensive strategy in the second half. After allowing Basehor-Linwood to do as it pleased offensively in the first half, especially in the paint, Mill Valley opened the second half in a full court press to disrupt the Lady Bobcats' timing. They also made a point of clogging the middle and denying the ball to Lombardino.
"That was an adjustment they made," Lombardino said. "They double-teamed me and made it hard to get my shot."
BLHS coach Tami Holthus said Mill Valley's halftime adjustment was effective and presented her team with a great challenge.
"They did a great job of taking away our inside game," said Holthus when summing up the second half. "We didn't get the ball to Lombardino."
With the inside taken away, and Lombardino held scoreless in the second half, the perimeter game became responsible for securing the win. Sanders, after having been shut down for no points on five shots in the first half, took over with 11 second-half points.
Taking a slim 25-19 lead into the fourth quarter, the Lady 'Cats held on in a high scoring final stanza to secure a 41-34 win. Sanders was clutch at the free throw line, knocking down 6-of-9 free throws to continually keep Mill Valley at arms length.
"I'm proud of the kids," Holthus said. "They came out fighting."
The coach liked the way her center played.
"Cassie does a good job getting loose balls, rebounding and doing other things to get into the game without scoring."
Lombardino finished the game with nine rebounds, on top of her offensive and defensive contributions.
"I try to work my hardest at everything," Lombardino said. "I play my hardest even if I am not shooting well. I can affect the game without shooting."
The game did feature a tense moment when forward Bren Koontz was fouled hard across the face on a drive to the basket. Blood dripped to the ground from beneath her eyebrow as she walked off. After stopping the bleeding with a towel during the ensuing timeout on the floor, Koontz calmly returned to attempt her free throws.
She appeared fine after the game, and Holthus didn't believe Koontz's status would be affected in the future.
After the win, the team should have sufficient confidence heading into winter break. The Lady 'Cats (4-1) will look to continue their hot start to the season on Friday, Jan. 5, when they host Perry-Lecompton in the first game after winter break.