Basehor is ready for opponents best game
Last year, Basehor-Linwood snuck up on unsuspecting opponents and built big leads by the time the opposition realized they weren't dealing with the same ol' Bobcats. This year, the'Cats have everyone's attention. A 17-5 season will do that for you.
"Everybody knows who we are now," coach Mike McBride said. "At times last season, with the tradition we had had, even when we were winning games I am not sure we got everyone's best game because they thought that game would be an easy win."
If the record doesn't get someone's attention, being named the fifth ranked team in the Kansas City Metro area might.
"Coach has been talking about rankings," Tanner Swafford said. "He doesn't want our heads to get big and have more pressure on us. We try our best to ignore the rankings and just play."
McBride said the expectations won't hamper the team.
"Realistically with the way I coach, it shouldn't be any different," McBride said. "We prepare for each game the same. We don't do any extra motivating, or any of that. I don't think we will play any less or more hard than last year. We are going to get everyone's best game."
Swafford, however, said it is easier to play in the roll of underdogs.
"The underdog role would be more favored, because there is less pressure if we do end up losing," Swafford said. "Right now, we aren't worries abut losing; we just want to win substate."
Substate is the focus of a team whose season was ended last year after being shocked by Baldwin, 40-38. The playoffs might have been the first time last year that the Bobcats were looked at as prohibitive favorites. The experience wasn't kind.
"Looking back, what we have talked about with the kids, I think we peaked against Piper," McBride said. "That is a game everyone talked about. We didn't play well a couple games before Piper; some teams came close to beating us. At Piper, we played as well as we had every played. That is when we peaked.
"At the beginning of the season, we just wanted to get better, and all of a sudden we were winning games. Now we can talk about state and substate and talking about the feeling of when it all ended. Now we can talk about substate being our peak to this season. We would forfeit a league championship for a substate championship any day."
The team certainly looks to have embraced their roll as favorites. In the first game of the season, Friday against Tonganoxie, the Bobcats played stifling defense and came away with an easy 47-31 victory.
The 'Cats held Tongie to seven first-half points. BLHS forced 23 turnovers and committed only nine.
"Overall I was very pleased," McBride said. "We played exceptionally hard."
McBride said Swafford, who scored 20 points, played 'great' defense. Swafford's main off-season goal was improving on that side of the ball.
"My philosophy was teaching defense first," McBride said. "The varsity guys have a good concept of how to play defense. If we play that way, the offense will come around."
The offense only shot 32% from the field, but with the defensive performance, the Bobcats were never in jeopardy.
Just when the Bobcats thought they could get used to the roll of favorites, they will take on Blue Valley West, the number one ranked team in the state, on Thursday.
If the team's swagger is any indication of how that game will go, the Bobcats should be competitive and in a position to pull the upset.
"We thought we played sloppy and could have played a better game," Swafford said. "Next time we play Tongie we should be a lot better and it will be a bigger blowout."