Championship run falls just short
Ashley Jeannin's half-court heave flew toward the basket with the championship hopes of the Lady Bobcats and their fans riding on it. Jeannin had done everything she could in the last 3.5 seconds, dribbling adeptly through Fort Scott's full-court pressure and waiting until the last possible millisecond to release the shot. But it just came from too far away, and all the hoping and wishing in the world couldn't keep it from coming up short.
Fort Scott won the championship of the Bobcat Invitational 32-29 in a knockdown, grind-it-out, take-the-charge kind of game. Both teams rose to the occasion and both probably equally deserved the championship, but the Lady Tigers were the ones who came away with it. Still, for a Basehor-Linwood High School team that entered the tourney as the eighth seed, going 2-1 and taking second place was a victory.
"I would say that this tournament did a lot to bolster our confidence," BLHS coach Tami Holthus said. "It continued to reinforce that when we play hard and we play tough like we have been, we can compete against good teams."
The Lady Bobcats won two close games to get to Saturday's championship showdown with Fort Scott. They dealt top-seeded Holton its first loss of the season with a 30-28 upset, in which Brooke Sanders and Michelle Chrisman combined for six threes. Two days later they downed Park Hill in a 44-42 thriller. In that game sophomore post player Cassie Lombardino exploded for 21 points and eight rebounds.
Lombardino was great again on Saturday against Fort Scott, leading the way with 12 points on 6 of 12 shooting from the floor. Chrisman chipped in eight points, Sanders had four and Jeannin dished out five assists. It was enough to stick with the Lady Tigers, but not quite enough to top them.
Fort Scott led 14-17 at halftime, but junior Shae Sawalich gave the Lady 'Cats an extra boost by taking two charges in a row early in the third quarter. Lombardino scored two layups to pull the squad within 18-21 at the end of the quarter.
The Lady Tigers were able to stay just out of range for much of the fourth quarter. But, with 1:15 left, Chrisman nailed a cold-blooded three from the top of the key to cut the lead to 28-30 and give her team new life. Fort Scott was cool under pressure, though, hitting enough free throw down the stretch to win.
The defeat was difficult to absorb, but the 2-1 tourney raised BLHS' record to 4-6. The team's success also got the home crowd going, which, in turn led to more success.
"It's a definite advantage," Holthus said of playing on the home floor. The crowd has been awesome. The girls are loving it, they appreciate it and so do I."
On Tuesday the Lady 'Cats' took the momentum from their home tournament to Immaculata and earned a thrilling road victory. They trailed 27-21 going into the fourth quarter, but rallied to beat the Lady Raiders 34-32. Lombardino led the way again with 10 points, Chrisman chipped in eight and junior Breanna Beebe had seven. The win improved Basehor-Linwood's record to 5-6 overall and 2-3 in the league.
BLHS will have a shot at evening both records Friday when they take on Lansing at home.