Piper’s hot start sends Basehor-Linwood packing
The deck was truly stacked against the Basehor-Linwood boys basketball team in Tuesday's sub-state opener. They were facing a powerful opponent in Piper, the second-place team in the Kaw Valley League. They were playing at Piper, in front of a crowd of students ready to pounce on their every mistake. And they were missing their steady freshman point guard, Chandler Schaake, because of a broken foot.
A good start to the game would definitely have helped the Bobcats establish some confidence and maybe plant a seed of doubt in the minds of the Pirates. Unfortunately for them, the opposite happened. Piper burst out to an early 10-0 lead and cruised to a 63-32 victory.
"It was a huge hole for us," BLHS coach Mike McBride said. "While our game plan didn't really allow for that, it was obviously a hole we had to try and get out of."
According to McBride, the plan had been to slow things down and try and make the Pirates play a lot of half-court defense, negating some of their athleticism. But Piper juniors Austin Bond and Nate Daniels came out firing and shot down that plan in a hurry. The two combined to score 10 points in the first three minutes, missing just once in the process.
After a timeout, the Bobcats showed a little bit of what they had intended to do offensively. Jacob Schierbaum and Tanner Swafford showed a little synergy inside as Schierbaum fed Swafford for a layup and then Swafford returned the favor on the next possession.
But the four-point mini-run was ended when Daniels dropped in a short jumper. Then BLHS suffered through a seven-minute scoring drought that more or less ended their chances for an upset. By the time Swafford ended the drought with a free throw shortly before halftime, the Bobcats trailed 25-4.
The team went into the break down 31-8, and the single-digit point total only began to tell the story of the offensive struggles. The Bobcats had turned the ball over 11 times and made just three field goals. With Piper pressing and trapping at every opportunity, BLHS was feeling the absence of Schaake.
"I'm not going to be one of these people to talk him up tremendously as a freshman, but he only had two more turnovers than assists for the season," McBride said. "If you watch tape, he just brings a calmness that I've never seen a freshman bring to a ball club."
Even so, McBride readily acknowledged that it would have taken more than a healthy Schaake to beat the Pirates Tuesday. Though they still have a full year of high school basketball left, Bond and Daniels looked ready for the college game. Both went for 15 points Tuesday, despite playing limited minutes in the second half.
The Bobcats made one run in the third quarter that frustrated Piper's coach. Swafford completed the 9-4 run with two straight buckets inside, bringing on a Piper timeout as the lead was cut to 40-19. Daniels responded with a short jumper and the rout was back on.
Swafford hit his last four shots and led the Bobcats with 10 points. Three BLHS seniors finished up their careers against the Pirates.
Garrett Chumley scored six points and added two rebounds and two assists. Steven Bower scored four points and had an assist and a steal, as well as a number of hustle plays. James Bishop scored two points and added two assists, a rebound and a steal. All three left the court in the final seconds to a spirited ovation from the BLHS fans.