Sophomores gave Lady ‘Cats an explosive downtown tandem
The Basehor-Linwood girls basketball team had its ups and downs this year, but one constant was the outside shooting of Brooke Sanders and Michelle Chrisman.
In terms of three-pointers, few teams could claim a twosome as dangerous. Sanders made 37 treys on the season, while Chrisman had 33. They combined to average more than three triples per game, a sizzling pace.
While most teams have one three-point specialist, Chrisman and Sanders provided the Lady Bobcats with a balanced outside attack in which neither could be left alone. That opened up post space for Cassie Lombardino and driving lanes for Bren Koontz.
"It helps to spread the defense out a little bit, gives them more things to worry about," BLHS coach Tami Holthus said.
The Bobcats certainly have other players who are capable of shooting the three. Tiffany Waxmonski, Ashley Jeannin, Megan O' Bryan, Elyse Douglas, Bren Koontz and Amber Jeannin all hit from downtown this year. But none of them yet have the confidence and experience shooting it that Sanders and Chrisman had and none of them have shot or made nearly as many.
Sanders and Chrisman are only sophomores, which has to be a bit scary for other Kaw Valley League coaches. Both are still gaining maturity and physical strength, which should only enhance their outside shooting. Each of them said they started shooting threes around fifth or sixth grade, so they've only had about four years of practice. Imagine what a couple more might do.
According to Chrisman, the key to being a good outside shooter is just practice, practice practice. Sanders agreed, but had one more item to add.
"If you're confident it helps a ton," she said.
Besides confidence and practice, one thing that has helped Sanders and Chrisman become such good shooters is their technique. Both of them have a consistent release and seem to shoot the three with less effort than other players. Each of them said they have aspects of their technique that they like to focus on when they shoot.
"Don't follow the ball when you shoot, watch the basket," Sanders said.
"Making sure my hand is high, in the right form," Chrisman said.
Chrisman added that paying attention to the follow-through of her shooting hand kept her from pushing it too far out to the side.
Whatever Sanders and Chrisman have been doing on their three-pointers this year, it has worked, and it's made for some explosive games from both of them. Chrisman hit five threes earlier in the year against Perry-Lecompton and Lansing and Sanders matched her with five triples against Pleasant Ridge and Mill Valley.
Not a game went by this year when the two didn't combine to hit at least one from beyond the arc.
With the three-point shot comfortably tucked in their arsenal, Holthus said she wants the two to concentrate on developing the rest of their games.
"They're starting to understand that it's more than just shooting an open three," Holthus said. "We're working very hard at being able to penetrate and kick and those two are both getting better at doing that as well."
Sanders and Chrisman have shown throughout the year that they're more than just three-point threats and they won't shut down if the shots aren't falling. Against Piper, they were just 2 of 14 from downtown. But Sanders scored 11 points, mostly on driving layups, and added five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Chrisman made both threes and also had five rebounds and three assists.
And, most importantly for both of them, the Lady 'Cats won the game.
With their three-point status cemented and the rest of their games continuously developing, they're looking forward to a lot more wins in the next two years.