Basehor-Linwood guard Brooke Sanders relishes her role as team leader
Brooke Sanders never rests while she is on the court.
The Basehor-Linwood High School junior point guard is either in her opposition's grill on defense, pushing the ball up the court on offense, or accumulating floor burns while diving all over the hardwood kamikaze-style for loose balls when neither team has possession.
"You always have to do that," Sanders said. "Any play in the game could make the difference. You never know what possession is going to help you out. Of course you want the ball, and I am going to go get it.
"It's just hustle. It's who wants it more. Which team wants it more? Do you want it more, or do they want it more?"
Sanders has been firmly entrenched in the BLHS girls basketball team's starting lineup since the beginning of her freshman season. Despite the fact that the Lady Bobcats have only one senior on the team, they happen to be very experienced.
Sanders, Cassie Lombardino, and Ashley Jeannin have all been starting since their ninth grade years. Michelle Chrisman also logged major minutes during that season. They are all juniors now, having grown up playing alongside one another.
The foursome began playing together in MAYB ball during their fifth-grade year. The team's senior, Amanda Vitt, also played with them. Seven years later, the chemistry is apparent on the court.
The current version of the Lady Bobcats has helped to revive the program along with second-year head coach Tami Holthus. The turnaround is something that Sanders will never forget.
"It will be something to look back on," Sanders said. "It sounds silly, but it has been a life-changing experience. It makes you mentally tough with the things we have learned. It has made me tougher all around.
"I think it will help me a lot not just in my basketball career, but in life. There are a lot of things that I have learned from Holthus and this whole program that just got started last year."
Sanders' favorite basketball player is Diana Taurasi.
While the BLHS point guard says she doesn't pattern her game around another player, she tries to embody the same mental characteristics that the former UConn guard possesses.
"I try to play smart," Sanders said. "I don't play smart all the time, but I try. There are things I could do better.
"I try to push the ball up the court, a lot. I try to be tough with the ball, just make sure I get the offense started, because that is my job. To get everyone organized and get the offense set. From there, I just play."
As the point guard, Sanders' job description is more detailed than any other position. Besides her regular duties, she must know the roles of every other player on the floor in order to make sure the team is synchronized at all times.
"The person that makes sure everyone is on the same page," Sanders said when asked of her role on the team. "The leader on the court. I make sure everyone knows what defense we are in, that everyone is matched up.
"I get us started in our offense; handle the ball for us under pressure. Slow the team down if we get sped up. Keep the team under control."
Ever the point guard who can see everything, Sanders knows there are still things the Lady Bobcats need to improve upon.
"We need to work on boxing out; that has kind of been sliding," she said. "We have been tougher with the ball than we have been. That is a big step that we have taken."
As the regular season begins its homestretch, it is more important than ever for the streaky Lady 'Cats to regain their footing. The junior point guard knows her team has the talent to do so.
"We have our good games and our bad games," Sanders said. "I think we would like to win more games than we have. We have lost so many close games this season that we can't really hang our heads."
They won't. Sanders wouldn't have it.