Victory secures winning season for Lady ‘Cats
Two clear, tangible goals were presented to the Basehor-Linwood girls basketball team prior to their tussle with Piper on Tuesday night: a win would ensure the first winning season in recent memory and home court advantage in the first round of sub-state.
The Lady Bobcats came out inspired, playing their typical brand of grind-it-out defense, and defeated the Lady Pirates 33-25.
"I told them that I was very proud of them," BLHS coach Tami Holthus said. "This win ensures us our first winning season in five years, I think. It's a big win for our program. We talked about how back in November that we were going to cross the line, that we were going to take the steps necessary to build something really special at Basehor-Linwood, and they've done that. We are going to look back on this win, and this time in our program in the years to come, and know that this is a real watershed event for us."
The players were equally enthused.
"Everybody was really excited," Ashley Jeannin said. "(Coach) told us before the game how big this was, and I think everybody knew afterward that this was a big step for us."
The Lady 'Cats jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead with two minutes remaining in the first quarter, holding Piper to 0-for-6 shooting from the field. BLHS led 17-10 heading into halftime.
The Lady 'Cats pushed their lead to 26-15 heading into the final stanza before Piper was able to increase the tempo of its offense in an attempt to get back into the game.
Cassie Lombardino was the driving force of the BLHS offense, collecting another double-double, 17 points and 10 rebounds.
"She has been so consistent this year, and I am so proud of her intensity," Holthus said. "She does a lot of things well, not just from a scoring and rebounding standpoint; from the defensive standpoint, she is a presence that the other teams have to deal with around the basket, she alters shots, and does it is a way where she doesn't pick up unnecessary fouls."
Brooke Sanders finished with eight points, three rebounds, and two steals. Newcomer Courtney Hooks, a freshman, had four points, a pair of rebounds, and a blocked shot.
The win came at the end of a brutal three game stretch where the team played three games in four days. BLHS lost to Sumner Academy on Saturday, 55-47. On Monday, the Lady 'Cats defeated Santa Fe Trail 55-51.
"We got up on them early, but it was a war the whole way," Holthus said of Monday's victory.
Two wins in two days may breed the kind of momentum the Lady 'Cats need heading into postseason play. Home court advantage will help, too.
"It's great," Jeannin said. "It's getting us kicked off going into sub-state. These wins are definitely getting us good momentum going."
How important is home-court advantage?
"Last year we didn't have it, and we lost in the first round," Holthus said. "It's been a while since this program has won in the first round of sub-state. We're just going to continue to take things one step at a time. We are going to get ready for Bonner on Friday night, but we are looking forward to defending our home court in the first round of sub-state."
Friday's tipoff against Bonner Springs ---9 and winners of five straight -- is scheduled for 6 p.m.