Coach sees progress in second season
Another season, another modest improvement for Mike McBride and the Bobcats. McBride took over a 2-19 team and turned it into a 5-16 squad his first year. This year the Bobcats finished only slightly better, at 6-15.
The Bobcats lost seniors Mike Armstrong, Seth Lashbrook, Nick Box and Joel Vandervelde this year and returned just two varsity players, so their 0-6 start might have been predictable. Austin Knipp and Jacob Schierbaum were the only returners and it took awhile for the other players to acclimate to the varsity game.
"Obviously the low point was starting the season 0-6," McBride said. "Trying to get freshmen to mesh with seniors, you know, having people playing from each class."
After the rough start, the Bobcats finished the year 6-9, including their first three-game winning streak in years. The victories came against Immaculata, Perry-Lecompton and Bishop Ward and all three were on the road. The Ward game was the culmination of the Bobcats' best play, with a road victory against a better-than-.500 team.
"That was definitely the high point of our season," McBride said.
After a Feb. 14th victory over Santa Fe Trail, the Bobcats had won four out of five and were looking to finish out strong. Then they went to Bonner Springs and things kind of fell apart. They lost big to the Braves and, more importantly, they lost Chandler Schaake to a broken foot. Without the steady freshmen they finished the season 0-3, including a home loss against 2-19 Tonganoxie.
"When Chandler broke his foot there at the end of the year it kind of dampered our mood," McBride said.
But Schaake will be back next year, providing the Bobcats with a calming presence at point guard.
With him will be starters Knipp, Schierbaum, and Tanner Swafford and key reserve Matt Fanning, a three-point sharpshooter. In all, McBride will return 35 points per game next year, after returning just 10 a game this year.
Seniors like Garrett Chumley, Steven Bower and James Bishop will be hard to replace, but McBride and BLHS are still primed for a breakout season. With Knipp, Schaake and Fanning returning, the Bobcats should be deep in the backcourt, but the key for McBride might be finding frontcourt players next season.
One thing BLHS was missing all season was a strong, bullish player who could take up space inside and help Schierbaum on the boards. McBride thinks he may have found it in Scott Ogilvie, a sophomore who played limited varsity minutes this year. Ogilvie is listed at just 6-foot, but has the broad shoulders and muscular build to be a tough rebounder.
"He's one kid who's not going to be scared to jump in between people, which is really kind of our big thing," McBride said. "We didn't have that one person who was willing to sacrifice the body to just go out there and rebound."
McBride expects Ogilvie's role to expand next year, but said it would also be key for the other frontcourt players, including Swafford and Schierbaum, to hit the weights before next season. If the Bobcats do get stronger inside, with the guard play they have coming back next year could be a breakthrough season.