BLHS balanced in 13-point win over Mill Valley
Friday night provided a good insight into the Basehor-Linwood boys basketball team as seen through the eyes of an opposing coach.
Mill Valley coach Justin Bogart was determined to take Bobcats senior guard Austin Knipp's offense away and dare the complementary players to beat him.
The Bobcats were up for the challenge.
Drawing heavy contributions from seldom-used offensive reservoirs, the Bobcats dispatched of the Jaguars 55-42.
"These kids have done a great job of getting better," coach Mike McBride said. "Role players have to understand that we may not get to shoot 16 or 17 times a game like a couple players can because they are just a little more athletic, but hey, I have to take my chances when I get them.
"That's what I love about this team. The role players play their role perfectly. That is what gives you a chance to go to state, when you do that."
The Jaguars employed a diamond-and-one defense on Knipp from the outset, a defense named for the shape of its formation.
Four Jaguars defenders positioned themselves in the shape of a diamond; one near the basket, one over the free throw line, and one on each wing. A fifth defender was assigned to one player, in this case Knipp. This allowed the defense to roll to Knipp whenever he caught the ball, which resulted in a de facto double team when he had possession.
"(Bogart) was taking a chance, he had some kids suspended," McBride said. "He did a great job with his game plan tonight. The thing about us, and that's what he told us after the game, we shoot the ball so well from everywhere, you can't play a junk defense against us. That is why I coach the way I coach."
The Jaguars had five players suspended for undisclosed reasons. Three were starters.
BLHS raced to a 12-3 lead with 2:30 left in the first quarter. MVHS erased most of it during the next four and a half minutes. The BLHS lead was 15-12 with 6:00 remaining in the second quarter.
Knipp, averaging 15.3 points a game, did not attempt a first quarter field goal while facing constant harassment. He didn't score his first points until midway through the second quarter.
"It wasn't frustrating at all," Knipp said of the defense. "Them putting that man on me just meant everybody else was going to get open. I trust, I know, that everybody is going to score. In our eyes, it was kind of a silly mistake, because we have more than one or two people that can score."
The Jaguars cut the deficit to one a minute into the second half, 26-25. The Bobcats ended the third on a 14-7 run and never looked back.
The Bobcats' scoring was evenly distributed. Knipp finished with 14 points after the Jaguars scrapped the gimmick defense at halftime. Tanner Swafford also collected 14. Jacob Schierbaum scored 11, Matt Fanning had nine on a trio of three pointers, and Chandler Schaake added five.
"Jacob Schierbaum is getting better inside, he is starting to score some points down there," McBride said. "Fanning on the perimeter, he can shoot. Schaake can hit a three here and there, and Anthony Pierce can hit a three. We are just so balanced. If you are going to play one of those defenses, we are going to hurt you."
Schaake also recorded three steals. Schierbaum and Swafford collected five rebounds apiece.
What did the Bobcat players think of the defensive ploys, which also included a 3-2 zone, a 1-2-2 zone, and man-to-man?
"As we saw tonight, it isn't that smart of an idea," Fanning said. "We have other guys on the team that can step up and score besides Austin and Tanner."
Fanning shot 3-for-5 from beyond the three-point arc, getting mostly open looks courtesy of the Jaguars' focus on Knipp.
"If they leave me open, I'm going to shoot it," Fanning said. "I have the confidence that I am going to make it every time, so I don't really have a problem if they are covering Austin and Tanner."
Knipp was pleased his teammates picked up the offensive slack.
"It was very important. We might not have won if they didn't do that," Knipp said. "I think they realized that I was out of the game and they would get Swafford every once in a while. They knew they could step up and do it, and they did."