Center of attention
BLHS junior leads the 4-1 Lady Bobcats in points, rebounds, blocks and minutes
Cassie Lombardino is used to being the center of attention on the basketball court.
The 6-foot-2-inch junior is a physical presence who consistently causes headaches for her competition. She is among the Basehor-Linwood High School girls basketball team's leaders in most statistical categories, including points, rebounds, blocked shots and minutes played.
However, despite the success, Lombardino views her role with the Lady Bobcats as more mental than physical.
"I try to have a good attitude," she said. "I try to push my teammates."
The tallest member of the Lady Bobcats began her basketball career as a second grader. She had a familiar source of inspiration.
"The person that most influenced me to play basketball was my dad," Lombardino said. "He is my role model. I always look up to him."
Lombardino's progression as a basketball player was not assured as a youngster. She played on the Bonner Springs Swoosh squad in the MAYB league from fifth through eight grade.
"I rode the pine," Lombardino said. "A lot."
Because of qualms with the playing time, numerous current members of the BLHS team broke from the Swoosh squad and formed a new team.
"I definitely wasn't the star of the team always," Lombardino said. "I worked really hard."
Lombardino has played with many current members of the Lady 'Cats since a young age, making it easy to know what her teammates are doing on the court at all times.
"We all feel like a family," Lombardino said. "Our chemistry is really good. It helps playing together in the summer. We have a tougher and stronger team."
Individually, Lombardino's preseason goals fell in line with her team's.
"Our team goal was to get better everyday," she said. "To work your hardest everyday because it will pay off. My goal was to work hard, and try to improve so I can help the team out more. I also wanted to be a leader."
Lombardino is leading the Lady 'Cats in their search for respect.
"We've been talking a lot about showing other teams about what Basehor, Kansas is about," the center said of her team. "We want to put our mark on the program, and let people know who we are. We haven't been feared before. We want teams to worry about us."
A 4-1 start to the season should help with that.
Lombardino is excited about the future of Basehor-Linwood girls basketball.
"I think the whole program will keep improving even when we leave," Lombardino said. "We are starting to build the program in the middle school level. I think our program is going to really develop."
Lombardino's future, while brimming with equal promise, is not yet planned. Her graduation is still more than a year into the future, and she has not yet begun a serious search of higher institutions.
"I want to play basketball in college," she said. "I've gotten a couple of letters, but nothing has happened yet."