Basehor-Linwood boys follow first win with rough outing at home hoops tournament
Through the first six games of the season, the Basehor-Linwood High School boys basketball team seemed to play all manner of great teams. They played undefeated squads like Mill Valley, defending league champions like Bonner Springs and storied programs like Pembroke Hill. BLHS really didn't get much of a break in the schedule until last Friday.
The Bobcats went to Tonganoxie that night, knowing that either they or the Chieftains would emerge from the gym with their first win of the season. It was a golden opportunity, and they took advantage, leaving with a 43-29 victory.
"Now the monkey's off the back for the rest of the year," BLHS coach Mike McBride said. "We can go out and get after it and there won't be a zero on there."
Although Friday's game was a battle between two winless teams, it actually had a playoff feel. 0 It was the Channel 6 game of the week, so there were T.V. cameras there, and just before the game, a fight broke out in the stands. It was set to be an emotional contest between two frustrated teams.
The emotions spilled over for the first time when Tonganoxie junior Jeff Hughes hit two long jumpers to give his team a 10-7 first quarter lead. Hughes pumped his fist and waved his arms at the crowd, but the three-point advantage was the biggest one the Chieftains would have all game.
Basehor-Linwood settled in offensively and peeled off a 10-1 run, erasing the memory of a difficult start that included two airballs and showed the young Bobcats' nervousness at playing in a game they felt they had to have.
"Everybody said this was a game we could win," junior guard Austin Knipp said. "We knew it and we came out all giddy and everything. But we settled down."
The Bobcats stretched their lead to 22-14 at halftime, behind nine points from freshman Chandler Schaake. Schaake would score just two more the rest of the way, but BLHS had more than enough balance on this night. Knipp, who had just one point in the first half, took control in the second with a mixture of offensive excellence. He came off a screen and hit a jumper, curled into the lane for a graceful finger roll, and took a steal coast-to-coast for an easy layup.
Knipp would finish with nine points and four steals. It was a far cry from last year, when he put up more than 20 points against the Chieftains in his first varsity start. But this year, he had plenty of help from his teammates. Schaake led the scoring with 11 points and added two steals, Tanner Swafford made his first three field goals and finished with eight points and four rebounds, and Jacob Schierbaum played like the biggest man on the floor should, recording team-highs in rebounds with seven and blocks with five.
"We're coming along as a team, obviously," McBride said. "That's how I coach. I'm going to try and give everybody a chance, because if you're going to go to the state tournament someday you've got to have five kids on the floor that can do everything."
McBride had that last Friday, or at least enough of that to beat Tonganoxie fairly easily. Once the Bobcats took a double-digit lead they held it, even as the Chieftains desperately tried to amp up the defensive pressure. BLHS was poised down the stretch, committing just eight turnovers the entire game. The offense wasn't flashy, but it was clean and fairly efficient, leading to 43.6 percent shooting from the field.
That offensive performance, coupled with some very solid defense, was the perfect formula for the Bobcats' first victory. Whether they can reproduce it remains to be seen, but for now they're satisfied that they can win the games they should win.
"Coming out of here without a win would have been very disappointing," Knipp said. "We came in here with confidence that we would win and if we hadn't we would have failed."
On Monday the schedule got very tough for the Bobcats again. They faced St. Joseph Central, a 5A team with an 11-2 record, in the first round of the Bobcat Invitational.
The Bobcats knew they were facing a tough task as early as the first quarter. Despite making their first four shots, they trailed 17-8. St. Joe Central was just too big and strong, beating BLHS 79-46.
The loss set up a second-round match-up between BLHS and Pembroke Hill on Wednesday. The game was a rematch of the teams' Jan. 3 game at Pembroke, which the Raiders won, 55-43.
Results weren't available at press time. A BLHS victory would put the Bobcats in the fifth place game at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. A defeat would have the Bobcats playing for seventh place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.