Lady Bobcats set to compete in tough KVL
Tami Holthus will soon begin her second season as the head coach of the Basehor-Linwood High School girls basketball team. The players are more comfortable with her system and her practice routines now, but the ultimate goal is the same: keep improving.
"I think our expectations remain the same as last year," Holthus said. "Work hard every day, get better every day."
The Lady Bobcats finished 10-11 last year and none of their players graduated. With Holthus' system securely in place, the many returners didn't have much to adjust to when practices began last week.
"Obviously, we're all more familiar with each other and there's a greater level of comfort and trust," Holthus said. "I'm very pleased with the first few weeks of practice, we're working hard and I've seen progress each day."
The Lady 'Cats return one of the Kaw Valley League's most feared offensive trios in juniors Cassie Lombardino, Brooke Sanders and Michelle Chrisman.
At 6-foot-2 with good athletic ability, Lombardino is one of the KVL's top post players. Sanders and Chrisman form an explosive outside shooting combo to complement Lombardino's play.
Lombardino had 21 points and eight rebounds against a good Park Hill team last year to help the Lady Bobcats advance to the championship game of their home tournament. She had an even better game against Immaculata a few weeks later, getting a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds and adding four steals and four blocks on the defensive end.
Sanders and Chrisman each had two games last year when they made five three-pointers. The two combined to hit at least one three in all 21 games.
But the Lady Bobcats also have plenty of weapons beyond Lombardino, Sanders and Chrisman. Twelve players saw significant varsity action last year and the team promises to be just as deep this year.
That depth helped them excel in Holthus' system, which stresses pressure defense often played over the entire floor.
Although BLHS promises to have a lot of talent and experience this year, there's going to be plenty of good competition in the KVL.
Tonganoxie will be the favorites to win the league yet again. The Lady Chieftains have one more season to enjoy the leadership and versatility of senior guard Ali Pistora, one of the state's top players.
The Lady Bobcats will open the season at Tonganoxie on Dec. 1.
The clash is possibly the toughest game on the schedule for BLHS this year, but if the Lady 'Cats can pull off a victory it would be a signature win for the program and a moment the players would remember for a long time.
Then, of course, there's Bonner Springs. The Bravettes won both meetings with the Lady Bobcats last season, including a heartbreaker at Bonner Springs when the Bravettes erased a 16-point BLHS lead in the fourth quarter.
That was possibly the signature game of Kelsey Stanbrough's career at Bonner Springs so far and the junior sharpshooter will again take the floor as one of the league's most dangerous players this year.
The two matchups between Basehor-Linwood and Bonner Springs are Jan. 12 (at Bonner) and the season finale on Feb. 23 (at Basehor).
As usual, those games promise to be big nights for both communities but, for Holthus, the most important game is always the next one on the schedule.
"I'm excited," she said. "We've got great kids and we're just going to take it one day at a time."